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Waltham biotech raises $110 million for gene therapy treatments

Luk Vandenberghe, scientific cofounder of Affinia Therapeutics and director of the Grousbeck Gene Therapy Center at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, and Livia Carvalho.
Luk Vandenberghe, scientific cofounder of Affinia Therapeutics and director of the Grousbeck Gene Therapy Center at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, and Livia Carvalho.JOHN EARLE

Affinia Therapeutics, a Waltham-based biotech working on gene therapies to treat diseases using technology developed at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, said Monday it has raised $110 million in a new venture capital round.

The company, which was founded in 2019 based on work pioneered by Luk Vandenberghe, an associate professor at Mass. Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School, plans to use the money to advance its gene therapy technology and move experimental drug programs into clinical trials.

Gene therapies are among the most promising, if technologically challenging, areas of medicine. By engineering a virus to carry functioning genes to cells to compensate for defective ones, drug makers have developed several revolutionary treatments for devastating genetic diseases, from a rare neurodegenerative disorder to a form of blindness.

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The one-time treatments can be breathtakingly expensive, with price tags of $1 million or more. Proponents, however, say such expensive medicines may actually be cost-effective by curing debilitating diseases that strain the health care system if treated for years with conventional drugs and hospitalizations.

The $110 million raised by Affinia supplements $60 million in financing that the firm announced in March of last year. The latest round was led by EcoR1 Capital and Farallon Capital Management, both based in San Francisco.

Additional new investors include Avidity Partners, Casdin Capital, GV, Octagon Capital, Perceptive Advisors, RA Capital Management, TCG Crossover, and Woodline Partners LP. Previous investors Atlas Venture, F-Prime Capital, Lonza, Mass General Brigham Ventures, and New Enterprise Associates also participated in the round.


Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at jonathan.saltzman@globe.com.