September 15, 2022 07:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time
BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Carver Biosciences, Inc., a biotech company focused on the development of CRISPR/Cas13 antivirals, today announced the closure of a seed round of funding, led by Khosla Ventures.
Carver is focused on using the bacterially derived RNA-directed RNase Cas13 to target respiratory viruses.
The company was founded in 2021 by Dr. Cameron Myhrvold, Assistant Professor at Princeton University. Dr. Myhrvold has worked on developing Cas13-based technologies for studying viral host RNAs since 2016, the year the protein was first discovered. Dr. Walter Strapps joined as co-founder and CEO in February of 2022. Dr. Myhrvold will serve as the chair of Carver’s Scientific Advisory Board.
“Cas13 opens up a whole new world of possibilities for targeting RNA, much like Cas9 did for targeting DNA," said Dr. Myhrvold. “I’m particularly excited about using Cas13 to treat viral infections, as the vast majority of viruses don’t have FDA-approved therapies or vaccines.”
Dr. Strapps is an experienced biotech executive, most recently serving as Chief Scientific Officer at Gemini Therapeutics, a dry age related macular degeneration-focused biotechnology company. Prior to that Dr. Strapps has held various roles leading research efforts in oligonucleotide-based therapeutics, including at Sirna Therapeutics, Merck & Co., Inc and Intellia Therapeutics.
“I’m very excited by the potential of Cas13 to treat patients infected with respiratory viruses. Cas13 provides us with a programmable platform to treat various existing viruses and to rapidly respond to new viruses as they occur,” said Dr. Strapps. “Having helped build several therapeutic oligo platforms before, I’m thrilled to bring that experience to a new CRISPR protein.”
“We invest in companies early that are bold and have the ability to make a large impact on society,” said Alex Morgan, partner at Khosla Ventures. “The major respiratory viruses with great impact on human health are RNA based and include respiratory syncytial virus, influenza virus, parainfluenza virus, metapneumovirus, rhinovirus, and something everyone can appreciate today, coronavirus. The ability to have a programmable therapy that can respond to newly emergent strains in a highly targeted way would revolutionize our approach to infectious disease, from the common cold to some of the major infectious causes of mortality. This team has a unique set of expertise that can hopefully unlock this potential.”
Carver will use the seed funding to conduct initial proof of concept Cas13 experiments in cells and in models of disease at their laboratories in Boston and with CRO partners. Cas13 acts by using sequence specific targeting of mRNA to cleave and specifically degrade the targeted RNA. Similar to Cas9 which targets DNA, Cas13 is part of a bacterial immune system that can be used in mammalian cells.
About Carver Biosciences, Inc.
Carver is a Boston, MA-based gene therapy company developing CRISPR-based therapies for RNA viruses that infect humans. Carver’s approach is a programmable, platform technology that could offer a generalizable solution for treating many viruses, as targeting is dictated by a guide RNA sequence. The company’s underlying technology was developed by co-founder Dr. Cameron Myhrvold. For additional information, please visit www.carver.bio.