Verve Makes Successful Wall Street Debut on Back of its Promising Base Editor
Verve Therapeutics, the first biotech to be backed by Google Ventures, is pioneering a transforming treatment approach for patients with chronic cardiovascular disease (CVD) via a highly sophisticated and precise single-course gene editing medicine. Led by the renowned cardiologist Dr. Sekar Kathiresan, the Cambridge, MA-based company made its wall street debut last week.
On June 16th, the company announced the pricing of its IPO of 14,035,789 shares of its common stock at $19.00 per share and raised $266.7 million. It began trading on the Nasdaq Global Market under the ticker “VERV” from June 17th. Since then, its shares have gained 19% after hitting a high of 68% on its first day of trading. The offering is expected to close on June 21st. J.P. Morgan, Jefferies, Guggenheim Securities, and William Blair are the joint book-running managers for the IPO.
A One Time Treatment for Heart Disease
The current treatment paradigm of CVD is chronic and fragile. It is often limited by patients’ poor adherence to statin therapy, high cost, side-effects, timing, regular health care access, thus leaving many patients without timely adequate care.
Verve’s goal to develop “once-and-done” therapies to treat heart diseases has attracted huge capital from investors. In January 2021, Verve raised $94 million in investments as part of a Series B financing, bringing its total funding to $217 million.
Verve’s lead product, VERVE-101, is a single intravenous injection designed to treat Heterozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia (HeFH), a potentially fatal CVD affecting ~31 million patients globally. Patients with HeFH suffer more heart attacks owing to a high build-up of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), aka bad cholesterol in coronary arteries.
VERVE-101 consists of adenine to guanine base editor messenger RNA (mRNA) and an optimized guide RNA that uniquely turns off the PCSK9 gene in the liver via lipid nanoparticle (LNP)-mediated delivery, resulting in sustained reduction of blood LDL-C levels. It is currently evaluated in IND-enabling studies.
Unlike CRISPR, which resorts to double-stranded breaks to fix mutant stretches of DNA, base editing just changes one DNA base without affecting the bases around it. This, in turn, minimizes the off-target effects generated by the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing machinery.
Verve’s “once-and-done” approach is touted to have huge potential in the CVD market, the competition from current players like Sanofi, Regeneron, Esperion Therapeutics, and others notwithstanding.
Editor: Rajaneesh K. Gopinath, Ph.D.
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