SHANGHAI and CAMBRIDGE, MA, January 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- -- WuXi Healthcare Ventures (WXHV) announced today that it has joined a $61 million financing round for Twist Bioscience and a $40 million financing round for Syros Pharmaceuticals.
Twist Bioscience has developed an automated semiconductor-based synthetic gene manufacturing process featuring a 10,000-well silicon platformcapable of producing synthetic biology tools, including genes, oligonucleotide pools, and variant libraries. By synthesizing DNA on silicon instead of on traditional 96-well plastic plates, this platform enables cost-effective, rapid, high-quality, and high-throughput synthetic gene production and overcomes the current inefficiencies of synthetic DNA production. The Twist platform has the potential to accelerate the application of DNA synthesis in drug development, biofuel and chemical production, agriculture production, biodetection, and data storage. Since its founding in 2013, Twist has raised $133 million in equity and $20 million in debt. WXHV initially invested in Twist’s Series B financing in May 2014.
“We are excited about the potential of Twist Bioscience’s automated platform to significantly lower the cost of DNA synthesis and thereby greatly expand the potential of genetic research,” said Dr. Ge Li, founding partner of WuXi Healthcare Ventures. “We look forward to supporting Twist’s rapid growth as it develops and launches numerous synthetic biology applications and expands its commercial operations in the United States and internationally.”
Syros Pharmaceuticals is focused on discovering and developing novel gene control therapies for cancer and other diseases. Syros has built a proprietary platform based on its founders’ seminal discovery of super-enhancers, a new class of gene control elements that provides the company with a unique lens to identify crucial genes that become dysregulated in diseased cells. By mapping gene control pathways directly in human disease tissue, Syros is pioneering a unique approach to identifying and modulating the gene switches important in diseases and identifying specific patient populations most likely to respond to these gene switches. Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance a pipeline of gene control product candidates, including a Phase 2 study of its lead compound, SY-1425, which is expected to begin in the first half of 2016 in a genomically defined subset of patients with acute myelogenous leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome. The funds will also be used to further develop the company’s proprietary gene control platform, with the aim of uncovering novel drug targets and biomarkers and developing medicines to treat cancer and other serious diseases.
“We are very pleased to support Syros’s development of new medicines based on the cutting-edge science of gene control,” said Edward Hu, founding partner of WuXi Healthcare Ventures. “This financing will fund clinical testing of Syros’s lead compound, which, if successful, will serve to validate its novel gene control therapeutics platform.”
WXHV identifies and partners with the most ambitious life science entrepreneurs around the world. It focuses primarily on building companies in China leveraging the world-class technology platform of WuXi AppTec and on investing in early-stage, transformative life science companies in the United States. Launched in 2011, WXHV has invested in such companies as Juno Therapeutics, Agios Pharmaceuticals, Foundation Medicine, Callidus Biopharma (later acquired by Amicus Therapeutics), Novira Therapeutics, Hua Medicine, and Adagene. In December 2015, it announced the closing of its $290 million WuXi Healthcare Ventures II, L.P., fund. WXHV now has more than $350 million under management.
About WuXi Healthcare Ventures
WuXi Healthcare Ventures is a leading cross-border venture capital firm focused on the life sciences and healthcare, with offices in Shanghai and Cambridge. The firm has assembled a team of seasoned investors and company builders with deep roots in science, technology, and innovation. The firm’s mission is to find, seed, and develop life science and healthcare businesses that can benefit the most from the firm’s operational expertise, strategic support, and capital and the patience of a long-term perspective. For more information, please visit www.wuxiventures.com.
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