21.06.2022, 07:00

Therorna completes Series A financing to accelerate pipeline development and clinical transformation of circRNA-based platform

BEIJING, June 21, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Therorna Inc., a China-based biotech company specialized in the development of cutting-edge circular RNA (or circRNA) technology-based new vaccines and therapies, announced the completion of a US$42 million Series A financing round. The round was co-led by a well-known industrial investment firm and MSA Capital, with participation from Sherpa Healthcare Partners, 3H Health Investment, and existing investors Quan Capital and Cenova Capital, demonstrating their continuous commitment to supporting Therorna's growth. With the new funding, Therorna plans to accelerate the build-out of its technology platform and the development of its product pipeline, as well as the clinical trials, regulatory applications, and international collaborations.

Therorna was founded in Beijing in April 2021. The company focuses on leveraging its proprietary circRNA technology platform to develop next-generation vaccines and innovative therapies. The company has established a strong pipeline of novel prophylactic and therapeutic drugs aiming to address high unmet medical needs. When combined with the previously completed angel and pre-A rounds, the company has to date raised over US$60 million.

The scientific founder of Therorna, Professor Wensheng Wei said, "We really appreciate the support of our investors. As the world continues to suffer from the COVID-19, scientists are obliged to shoulder the responsibility to provide scientific solutions to end this pandemic. We are devoted to accelerating the clinical application of our circRNA-based vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants."

Therorna Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Daniel Tang commented, "I am very grateful for the support of our new and existing investors in this financing round. The successful completion of this round will play a key role in helping Therorna accelerate the development of a new broad-spectrum COVID-19 vaccine and the discovery of additional novel therapies for a variety of diseases. Our team will continue to spare no effort to advance the circRNA platform technology to develop the next-generation of breakthrough therapies and quickly deliver meaningful social benefits."

MSA Capital founder and managing partner Yu Zeng added, "We are confident in the potential of circRNA technology for drug development in the area of protein expression and regulation. Compared with linear RNA, circRNA boasts breakthroughs in expression, stability, immunogenicity, and production. In terms of the technology, Chinese scientists have proven their internationally recognized capabilities at innovation and efficient transformation. MSA Capital is impressed by Therorna's strong team of scientists and entrepreneurs. As a serial entrepreneur, Professor Wei has deep expertise in gene editing and circRNA technology application, and Therorna's management team has rich experience in drug R&D and industrial management. MSA Capital will make use of its resources to support the expansion of Therorna in international markets."

Sherpa Healthcare Partners investment VP Dr. Changzu Cai said, "mRNA drugs have achieved notable success in the application of COVID-19 vaccines, but challenges in terms of side effects remain to be addressed. Linear RNA is easily degraded and its application beyond vaccines is still under exploration. Thanks to its unique structure, the circRNA as a tool for protein expression has been proven to maintain a relatively stable protein expression level in vivo for a longer time, which is expected to further expand the application scenarios of RNA therapy. The team led by Professor Wei is leveraging their experience in applying circRNA as a gene editing tool to support the development of the circRNA expression tool. The proprietary circularization method developed by Therorna has demonstrated its advantages in terms of dosage, and activation of cellular immunity by being first applied in COVID-19 vaccines. We are pleased to continue supporting the efforts of Wei Lab in converting innovations into benefits for patients and communities, while looking forward to transforming Therorna into a platform-based circRNA technology-focused company with an international presence."

3H Health partner Dr. Minchuan Wang said, "circRNA has better stability and long-lasting expression with a potential for creating a new RNA therapy platform. The combination of Professor Wei's team with strong technical expertise in circRNA and the management team established at an earlier stage of the company with members having rich experience in promoting the adoption of new technologies will help accelerate the clinical transformation of circRNA. We are honored to support Therorna in this financing round, and we will work with the company's team, and their new and existing investors, to help the company assume a leadership role in the realm of circRNA, providing patients with pioneering therapies and addressing unmet clinical needs."

Exclusive financial advisor for this transaction and CEC Capital Managing Director, Echo Zhang commented, "circRNA has attracted widespread attention as an emerging technology for RNA drugs. Therorna is expected to take the lead in advancing the technology into clinical applications. We are honored to help Therorna complete this round of financing, and we believe that Therorna will lead the development of the global circRNA sector."

About MSA Capital

Founded in 2014, MSA Capital is an independent global private equity and venture capital firm with over $2.0 billion under management. The firm manages capital from the world's top sovereign wealth funds, international asset managers, pension funds, university endowments, fund of funds and family offices, as well as China's leading new economy entrepreneurs.

MSA actively partners with outstanding entrepreneurs in China and other technology markets to build leading, innovative companies that aim to deliver strong financial returns and meaningful, positive impact. The firm is headquartered in Beijing, with resident teams in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Middle East, North Africa and the United States.

About Sherpa Healthcare Partners

Sherpa Healthcare Partners ("Sherpa") was founded in 2018, the founders previously worked together in one of China's leading venture capital firms, built and led its professional medical investment team since 2011, set up the dedicated healthcare investment fund and responsible for healthcare investment. The founders have been teamed together in close co-operation, built on shared values, mutual trust, and complementary capabilities.  Sherpa has now become an influential healthcare VC firm in the industry.  Sherpa has invested in leading companies in many key areas, such as Pharma, GeneTech, MedTech and Medical services. From 2011 to 2020, the team has gone through 4 vintage year cycles of multiple U.S dollar funds and RMB funds and made 100 investments. Sherpa has the honor to work with many outstanding entrepreneurs and grow together with them.

About 3H Health Investment

3H Health Investment is a Hong Kong and Shanghai based healthcare venture capital firm. It focuses on unmet medical needs and invests in emerging fields of science and medicine to deliver breakthroughs to patients. Leveraging its extensive resources with clinical institutions, industry partners and policy institutes, 3H builds leading innovative healthcare companies together with its partners.

About Quan Capital

Quan capital is a life sciences venture capital firm with strong China expertise and global capabilities. We discover, incubate, and grow next-generation life science companies in early and growth stage, worldwide. Our portfolio companies pioneer differentiated therapies and enabling technologies to address major human diseases with high unmet medical needs.

Quan has offices in Shanghai, Menlo Park and Boston.  Our investment professionals combine their strong expertise in both science and business with their diverse experiences in global drug development and healthcare investments, and they leverage their broad network worldwide to help maximize the company's value across geographies and development stages. Visit www.quancapital.com to learn more about us.

About Cenova Capital

Cenova Capital is one of the earliest healthcare funds dedicated to early and growth-stage investments in the life sciences and healthcare sectors in China. Since inception in 2010, Cenova Capital now has six funds under management with investments in over 80 companies in pharmaceuticals, medical devices,healthcare services and digital heath. Cenova Capital's investors are mainly large domestic and international institutional investors including Asian sovereign wealth investors, government institutions, insurance companies, financial institutions and multinational companies.

About CEC Capital

CEC Capital is a leading Chinese FA with a focus on the global TMT, consumption and health sectors.  In addition to investment banking, CEC Capital is managing a RMB fund and a dollar fund with offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and it also has a license to the US securities market. The healthcare industry is an advantageous industry that CEC Capital is concerned about. Meanwhile, CEC Capital has the largest and most professional health investment banking team in China with the most complete industry chain.

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Source: Therorna Inc.