Startup Ensoma launches with gene therapy vector platform

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

February 11, 2021 -- A new genomic medicine startup called Ensoma made its corporate debut this week, raising $70 million in financing and entering into a strategic collaboration with Takeda Pharmaceutical.

The foundation of Ensoma's platform, Engenious vectors, is engineered adenovirus vectors that are designed to deliver a diverse range of genome modification technologies directly to hematopoietic stem cells or other cells such as T cells, B cells, and myeloid cells.

Additionally, Ensoma has developed an in vivo selection system that can increase the population of genetically modified hematopoietic stem cells. This enables precise titration to lasting therapeutic levels without the need to redose patients, bypassing the immunogenic challenges associated with redosing for some other gene therapy modalities.

The company's scientific co-founders are Dr. Hans-Peter Kiem, PhD, who will serve as chief scientific and clinical advisor for Ensoma and Dr. André Lieber, PhD, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

The financing round was led by 5AM Ventures.

Under the agreement with Takeda, Ensoma will grant Takeda an exclusive worldwide license to the Engenious vectors for up to five rare disease indications. Takeda has also made an equity investment of $10 million in Ensoma's series A financing with the potential for $100 million in upfront and preclinical research payments. If all five programs are successful, Ensoma is eligible to receive up to $1.25 billion from Takeda, including additional development and commercialization milestone payments and up to low double-digit royalties on net sales of each product.

Ensoma will conduct preclinical research activities for the Takeda programs, and both parties will share in responsibilities leading to submission of investigational new drug applications. Takeda will lead development activities thereafter.

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