WOBURN, MA, Frequency Therapeutics, a company developing a pipeline of new drugs that activate progenitor cells within the body, today announced the closing of a $32 million Series A financing.
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The funding round was led by CoBro Ventures. Additional participating investors included Morningside Ventures, Emigrant Capital Corp., Korean Investment Partnership, Alexandria Real Estate Equities and other U.S. and international investors.
Frequency was founded in 2015 to advance the breakthrough work in Progenitor Cell Activation (PCA) by Robert Langer, Sc.D., and Jeffrey Karp, Ph.D., at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard Medical School. Using its proprietary PCA platform, Frequency's lead product candidate stimulates the regrowth of sensory hair cells in the inner ear to treat chronic noise induced hearing loss. The foundational science by Frequency's co-founders has been widely published, including a publication in Nature Methods (2014) and most recently as a cover feature in February's Cell Reports (2017). Frequency has a worldwide exclusive license to related intellectual property from MIT and Partners Healthcare, and intends to pursue the potential application of PCA for a wide range of therapeutic indications including hearing loss, skin disorders, muscle regeneration and gastrointestinal diseases.
"Bob Langer and Jeff Karp's vision is to gain much of the same effect as gene therapy and CRISPR by using small molecules, which we believe are safer and allow for easier delivery. Our data is very compelling and we are excited to be moving to the clinic in the next 12 to 18 months," said Marc Cohen Co-founder of CoBro Ventures and Chairman of Frequency's Board of Directors, which was announced in January 2017. "Hearing loss is not just a symptom of aging, but an indication that affects a significant percentage of the world's population in people of all ages. The U.S. loses on average $56 billion in annual productivity due to the complications associated with chronic noise-induced hearing loss alone."
"With no effective therapy available, this presents an enormous market opportunity and we believe there is even broader potential in indications beyond hearing loss with the further development of the PCA platform. Frequency is building a next-generation regenerative medicine company with a truly breakthrough approach designed to awaken the body's innate ability to restore function to damaged or diseased tissues," said David Lucchino, Co-founder, President and CEO of Frequency.
ABOUT CHRONIC NOISE INDUCED HEARING LOSS
Most hearing deficits result from the loss of key cells in the inner ear, called sensory hair cells, which are necessary to convert sound waves into nerve impulses. In adult mammals, unlike birds or reptiles, these cells do not spontaneously regenerate, although progenitor cells capable of regenerating hair cells remain present in the ear. Chronic noise induced hearing loss, Frequency's lead program, is a significant unmet need with no therapeutic approved for the condition. Around 48 million people are affected in the U.S. alone and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.1 billion people are at risk for hearing loss from recreational noise alone. Hearing loss caused by prolonged exposure to excessive noise can be attributed to many professional environments, such as heavy construction sites or military training, but every day loud noises such as a busy subway, weekend concerts and even the use of headphones can have a large impact on hearing. Frequency's therapeutic candidate for noise induced hearing loss is a proprietary combination of small-molecules drugs to transiently activate inner ear progenitor cells so that they multiply and create new hair cells.
ABOUT PROGENITOR CELL ACTIVATION (PCA)
Frequency's precise and controlled approach transiently causes Lgr5+ progenitor cells to divide and differentiate, much like what is seen in naturally regenerating tissues such as the skin and intestine. Frequency activates 'stemness' through mimicking signals provided by neighboring cells (the stem cell niche) with small molecules, and this proprietary approach is known as the Progenitor Cell Activation (PCA) platform. Frequency believes that PCA has the potential to yield a whole new category of disease-modifying therapeutics for a wide range of degenerative conditions. To fuel its drug discovery programs, Frequency is leveraging a PCA screening platform using primary human cells, including cochlear progenitor cells and adult human progenitor cells from the GI tract. Frequency's initial focus is on chronic noise induced hearing loss. Other potential applications include skin disorders, muscle regeneration and gastrointestinal diseases.
ABOUT FREQUENCY THERAPEUTICS
Frequency Therapeutics develops small molecule drugs that activate progenitor cells within the body to restore healthy tissue. Through the transitory activation of these progenitor cells, Frequency enables disease modification without the complexity of genetic engineering. Our lead program re-creates sensory cells in the inner ear to treat chronic noise induced hearing loss, which affects over 30 million people in the U.S. alone. www.frequencytx.com.