Biotech firm founded at Edinburgh Uni raises $42m

Gemini Therapeutics — co-founded by two University of Edinburgh scientists — announced it completed a $42.5 million Series A financing round “to advance multiple programs into the clinic.”

Gemini is focused on treatments for a common cause of blindness called “genetically-defined dry age-related macular degeneration” (AMD) and associated rare genetic diseases.

AMD is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in old age across Europe and the US.

The company’s scientific founders include University of Edinburgh scientists Paul Barlow and Andy Herbert, and Tufts University’s Johanna Seddon.

Barlow is a professor in Edinburgh University’s School of Chemistry and also heads a research institute in the neighbouring School of Biological Sciences.

Herbert is the director of a Scottish Enterprise-funded High-Growth Spinout Programme within the School of Chemistry.

They worked closely with Dr Keith Finlayson and colleagues at Edinburgh Innovations – the University’s innovation management service – during the commercialisation process and throughout the ongoing collaboration with Gemini Therapeutics that began in late 2015.

Atlas Venture, Lightstone Ventures and OrbiMed co-led the funding round, and also invested in seed financing in 2016.

“I’m delighted that, based on a decade of our fundamental research, we are developing therapeutics that could help these patients,” said Herbert.

“This new company is a brilliant example of the global reach of Scottish science.”

James McLaughlin, CEO and co-founder of Gemini Therapeutics, said: “We believe the time is right to harness genetic insights into AMD, and we’ve gathered the people, the technology and the resources necessary to lead the translational effort.

“To build our pipeline, we focused on patients first – particularly patients with a high genetic risk profile.

“We assessed the functional implications of their underlying mutations.

“We then matched each molecular abnormality with an appropriate therapeutic candidate: a recombinant protein, a monoclonal antibody or a gene therapy.”

Steve Squinto, Gemini board member, said: “Gemini’s multimodal approach allows the company to pursue some of the most compelling targets in the complement system – regulatory proteins – and help patients with a spectrum of loss-of-function mutations which are closely linked to the risk of AMD and rare complement-mediated diseases.”