ViaNautis Bio’s £20m polyNaut Series A breakthrough moment
ViaNautis Bio, the developer of proprietary drug delivery platform polyNaut, has successfully completed its Series A funding round, raising £20million – having changed its name this week from SomaServe.
ViaNautis was spun out of UCL in 2018 by co-founders Dr Francesca Crawford, Dr Denis Cecchin, and Professor Giuseppe Battaglia, inventor of polyNaut and honorary professor at UCL.
PolyNaut is set apart from conventional non-viral delivery technologies through its remarkable ability to target specific cells and penetrate biological barriers, including the challenging blood-brain barrier. The platform uses versatile nano-engineered polymer technology designed for targeted intracellular delivery, with payloads carrying a wide array of genetic cargoes, with sizes exceeding current standards for viral and non-viral delivery.
Using its polyNaut platform, ViaNautis is at the forefront of pioneering new therapies for CNS diseases and cystic fibrosis.
Francesca Crawford, CEO of ViaNautis, told the Cambridge Independent: “We are a product-focused company that is developing nanomedicines. Each product has a payload that is a drug – in our case genetic materials – that is transported to selected malfunctioning cells by our polyNaut technology.”
Of the name change, Dr Crawford said: “ViaNautis – meaning Via street/way and Nautis, ie navigating – reflects our technology which navigates to the cells of interest.”
ViaNautis’s Series A fundraise was led by 4BIO Capital, BGF and UCB Ventures with the additional participation of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Eli Lilly and Company, and existing investors including Origin Capital, Meltwind and O2H.
The proceeds will fuel the rapid development of products using the polyNaut platform, expand the scientific and management teams and establish industry-leading laboratory facilities.
Owen Smith, partner at 4BIO Capital, said: “ViaNautis presents an excellent opportunity in the world of genetic therapies by enabling the delivery of cargoes to otherwise inaccessible sites of action in the body.”
Lucy Edwardes Jones, investor at BGF, said: “This breakthrough creates a path for the development of innovative treatments for diseases that have remained unaddressed for too long.”
Steven Biesmans, principal at UCB Ventures, said: ” PolyNaut addresses a critical need, as many patients currently have limited or no treatment options.”
Dr Crawford noted that polyNaut “offers unparalleled access to the brain and other tissues, presenting significant opportunities to address both CNS and lung diseases”.
She added: “We are delighted to welcome our new investors and appreciate the support of our existing shareholders.
“We are also proud to be working with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on one of our key pipeline programmes, underscoring our commitment to advancing treatments for people with cystic fibrosis and other unmet clinical needs.
“This fundraise marks a pivotal moment in ViaNautis’s journey and we look forward to advancing the field of gene therapy, while creating substantial value for our shareholders.”
The company’s pipeline includes VNS002, supported by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, focusing on identifying optimal formulation candidates for targeted delivery to the conducting airways in the lungs.