New Biotech Player Appears in Newbury Park
High-profile venture capitalist Beth Seidenberg, recently named to Barron’s list of 100 Most Influential Women in American Finance alongside Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, is dedicating a portion of her company’s millions here in the Valley of Conejo.
Newbury Park-based biotech startup Capsida Biotherapeutics, which pioneers targeted gene therapy treatments for rare neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease, announced last week that it had raised $ 140 million in funding from Series A from three sources: Seidenberg’s Westlake Village BioPartners, Versant Ventures and AbbVie, a Chicago-based publicly traded biopharmaceutical company.
Series A financing usually comes after a company has already raised seed capital and developed a balance sheet (for example, consistent revenue numbers or some other key performance indicator) to attract new outside investors.
In an April 29 announcement, Capsida, which was founded in 2019, said it intended to devote part of the multi-million dollar investment to opening a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility this year in the booming biotechnology district of Thousand Oaks northwest of Amgen. Campus.
Additionally, Capsida said he plans to expand his team from 50 members to around 100 scientists.
“Capsida is another example of the growing biotech hub in the Greater Los Angeles area,” said Seidenberg, founding CEO of WLV BioPartners and member of the Board of Directors of Capsida. “Westlake Village BioPartners is proud to catalyze this growth.”
Last year, WLV Biopartners announced that it had raised an additional $ 500 million (for a total of $ 820 million over three years), money used to attract several startups to the Rancho Conejo area that the city hopes to develop in the one of the many buildings currently under construction. .
Capsida has worked with several other biotech startups in a space developed by Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc., one of the nation’s leading life science campus developers, in the 1200 block of Rancho Conejo Boulevard.
With its latest funding, Capsida plans to expand into Alexandria’s new development at neighboring 1300 Rancho Conejo, said Haider Alawami, Thousand Oaks economic development manager.
“This is exactly how investing in biotechnology works,” said Alawami, who is part of a team of city leaders working over the past three years to revitalize the Rancho Conejo industrial area as a biotechnology center. “First of all, they get the support of a company like Westlake Bio, they do their research, and all of a sudden it’s a good concept and everyone wants to be a part of the growth of the company. “
In this case, Alawami said, that growth remains in the region. He said that in addition to adding 50 scientists, he expects the expanded Capsida office to produce 10-20 administrative jobs as well.
“This is exactly what the city envisioned,” he said. “Good news.”
Westlake Bio and Versant will contribute a total of $ 50 million; Meanwhile, AbbVie and Capsida have a multi-year license agreement that provides $ 80 million in initial cash and a $ 10 million equity investment.
The collaboration aims to develop the best targeted gene therapies for three diseases of the central nervous system.
Although current gene therapy approaches have shown promise in treating several rare diseases, drugs are hampered by imprecise targeting – a problem Capsida is trying to address.
More specifically, some products may need to be administered at higher doses and therefore be more likely to induce immunogenic responses and adverse events.
Capsida’s first in-house preclinical programs focus on neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders, areas in which gene therapies have yet to gain ground due to difficulties targeting the brain.
Based on the progress made to date, Capsida plans to start working on its first development candidates in 2021 and begin clinical trials in 2022.
The only fly in the ointment for the city of Thousand Oaks: the public relations teams insist on referring to the local development of Rancho Conejo as in “Greater Los Angeles”.
“We don’t control press releases,” Alawami said. “At least say ‘the Conejo Valley’. We have to make a name for ourselves. “