Dyne Therapeutics is back at the VC well—this time, it’s raising $115 million to bankroll a pipeline of treatments for muscle diseases including its lead programs for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and two other muscle-wasting diseases.
The top-up comes from Dyne’s backers Forbion, MPM Capital and Atlas Venture—which founded, seeded and incubated the company—as well as from newcomers Vida Ventures, Surveyor Capital, Wellington Management Company, Logos Capital and Franklin Templeton.
“We are excited to have such strong support from outstanding new and existing investors who share the Dyne team’s vision of building the world’s leading muscle disease company,” Dyne CEO Joshua Brumm said in a statement. “Importantly, this capital allows us to leverage our FORCE platform and advance our pipeline of modern oligonucleotide therapeutics aimed at transforming the lives of individuals living with serious muscle diseases.”
The FORCE platform allows Dyne to conjugate antibodies to oligonucleotides—short DNA or RNA molecules—to treat serious muscle diseases. An antibody brings the payload to muscle cells, where the oligonucleotide binds with RNA that drives disease progression and degrades it.
The company has three preclinical-stage assets—in addition to its Duchenne program, it’s working on treatments for myotonic dystrophy Type 1 (DM1), a muscle wasting disorder caused by a mutation in the DMPK gene, and facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), which is caused by genetic changes in chromosome 4 and primarily affects muscles in the face, shoulder blades and upper arms. It is looking at cardiac and metabolic muscle diseases in its discovery-stage work.
Dyne isn’t the only player working on antibody-oligonucleotide conjugates. Avidity Biosciences is also using the approach to treat muscle diseases. The company raised $100 million in venture funding late last year and filed to raise $100 million in its IPO in May before closing its listing at $298 million. It expects its first program, in myotonic dystrophy Type 1, to enter the clinic in 2021.
Attaching drugs to antibodies to exploit their selective nature isn’t new—several companies are working on antibody-drug conjugates to deliver cell-killing drugs to cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. But Avidity and Dyne believe that using oligonucleotides could work even better.