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10 August 2018

DNAlite musters $1.5m seed round

Founded by two UC Berkeley graduates, DNAlite Therapeutics has been backed by the university and its Berkeley Catalyst Fund.

Author: Callum Cyrus, reporter

US-based gastrointestinal therapy developer DNAlite Therapeutics obtained $1.5m on Wednesday in a seed round that featured University of California (UC) Berkeley.

The round was led by the Catalyst Philanthropic Fund, a vehicle backed by the UC Berkeley Foundation that aims to help commercialise technologies emerging out of the institution’s College of Chemistry.

Blue Bear Ventures, a VC firm focused on UC Berkeley-linked businesses, also took part in the round, as did biopharmaceutical company BrightGene, SOSV, SVE Capital and the Baldota family.

Founded in 2016, DNAlite is working on gene therapies targeting the gastrointestinal tract of patients with genetic intestinal diseases. Its approach relies on drugs capable of transcending the mucosal barrier that surrounds organs in the gut.

DNAlite’s lead asset targets familial adenomatous polyposis, an inherited disorder characterised by the early formation of thousands of polyps in the colon which develops into colon cancer by the time the patient is 35 to 40 years old.

The funding will go towards preclinical development.

DNAlite was co-founded by Mubhij Ahmad, who received a Master’s degree in chemical and biomolecular engineering from UC Berkeley in 2016, and Timothy Day, who submitted his PhD thesis in 2017 on how certain gene delivery vectors can overcome physical ocular barriers.

The company received $250,000 in May 2017 for participating in SOSV's IndieBio accelerator. It also participated in the UC Berkeley Launch accelerator last year.

Day, now chief scientific officer at DNAlite, said: "DNAlite is focused on treating the underlying cause of specific diseases in the gastrointestinal tract. With this investment, we will be able to advance our treatment strategy that helps to address the need of patient populations with limited therapeutic options "

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