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CRISPR-Based Antiviral Therapy Firm Agenovir Raises $10.6M in Series A Financing

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Agenovir, a company pursuing antiviral therapies based on engineered nucleases, has announced a $10.6 million Series A financing.

Data Collective led the round, joined by Celgene, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and several individual investors.

"With this financing led by top tier venture, corporate, and individual investors, we expect to build an exceptional leadership team and accelerate our research and development programs to treat diseases associated or caused by latent or persistent viral reservoirs," Agenovir CEO and Co-founder Bruce Hironaka said in a statement.

The South San Francisco, California-based firm is developing technology from the lab of Stanford University professor and Co-founder Stephen Quake. It plans to use computationally engineered nucleases including CRISPR/Cas9 to disrupt intracellular viral DNA to prevent infection and eliminate viral reservoirs. The firm is attached to Johnson & Johnson's JLabs @SSF biotech incubator.

Former Stanford postdocs Jianbin Wang, now at China's Tsinghua University, and Angela Wu, now at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, are also co-founders of the company.

In 2014, Wang and Quake published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showing how CRISPR/Cas9 could eradicate latent Epstein-Barr virus in patient-derived cells.