NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – A new firm called Codiak BioSciences has secured more than $80 million in financing to create therapeutic and diagnostic products based on exosome-related technology developed at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Codiak was co-founded by MD Anderson Professor Raghu Kalluri and Broad Institute President and Director Eric Lander. The firm has licensed exosome-related technology that Kalluri developed at MD Anderson, including using the small, extra-cellular vesicles to deliver therapies and analyzing their nucleic acid and protein contents for diagnostic purposes.
The firm is being launched with more than $80 million guaranteed by a funding syndicate led by Arch Venture Partners and Flagship Ventures. The investors have agreed to provide the funds in two tranches, the first of which has already been released, a Flagship Ventures spokesperson told GenomeWeb. Fidelity Management and Research, the Alaska Permanent Fund, and Alexandria Venture Investments also joined in funding Codiak.
In addition to the licensing agreement, Codiak has signed a sponsored research agreement with MD Anderson. Codiak CEO Douglas Williams told GenomeWeb that MD Anderson holds a financial stake in the firm. Other financial details of the various agreements were not disclosed.
"We have been involved in exploring the utility of exosomes in a variety of therapeutic and diagnostic settings for some time," Flagship Ventures CEO Noubar Afeyan said in a statement. "Based on our early involvement in this rapidly emerging field, we were impressed by the findings reported from Kalluri's laboratory." Flagship Ventures said in a statement that its VentureLabs Newco VL27 unit has acquired intellectual property related to the cell-to-cell transfer of nucleic acids via exosomes and that VL27 will be subsumed by Codiak.
Codiak said in a statement that Kalluri's work has demonstrated that exosomes can deliver therapeutic payloads and contain double-stranded genomic DNA, micro RNAs, and proteins. Some exosomes are even specific to different types of cancer. In June, scientists led by Kalluri published a study showing that an exosome-associated protein had 100 percent accuracy in detecting pancreatic cancer.
Codiak was incorporated this month, Williams said, and is looking for a long-term home in the Kendall Square area of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Meanwhile, it is setting up temporary laboratory space in Woburn, Massachusetts.