Vector BioPharma: the future of gene delivery
The field of gene and genetic therapies has exploded in recent years, with hundreds of companies keen to exploit the emerging technology. The grand challenge in the field, however, remains to be solved, namely the precise, efficient and robust delivery of genetic cargo to the target cell and organ. Founded in 2021 and based in Basel, Switzerland, Vector BioPharma has stepped up to address this challenge. With a US$ 30m series A funding from venture capital firm Versant Ventures, the company has grown to 45 employees, 70% of which are PhD-level scientists.
Founded to solve problems
Vector BioPharma is a platform-based company. The technology at the heart of the enterprise comes from the laboratory of Prof. Dr Andreas Plückthun at the University of Zürich, an internationally recognised protein engineer and serial entrepreneur with more than 500 peer-reviewed publications to his name. Prof. Plückthun and Versant formed Vector BioPharma together with Lorenz Mayr, a seasoned biopharmaceutical executive and investor, now CEO of the company. The technology employs an engineered high-capacity virus-like particle (VLP) that has been stripped of all viral genes. This particle has an incredibly high loading capacity, with the potential to deliver up to 36 kb of DNA payload. The VLP is further engineered to permit evasion of the immune system using a proprietary protein shield that dramatically enhances pharmacokinetic properties and further limits immune clearance. Finally, the fiber knobs of the VLP are engineered with a trimeric protein cap with interchangeable adaptors that alter the natural tropism of the VLP and permit targeting to virtually any cell type. These three components result in a gene delivery vehicle with an unprecedented cargo capacity and exquisite cellular targeting.
Given the huge flexibility of Vector BioPharma’s system, the potential application areas are manifold. The company is looking to initially exploit the technology in the fields of immuno-oncology, cellular therapies and by delivering genome editing machinery to tackle multiple diseases across the field of medicine. Other applications and opportunities are within reach.
“It is gratifying to see the work that started 10 years ago is now being translated into new therapies,” said scientific founder Prof. Plückthun. “I look forward to working closely with the Vector team to bring these treatments to patients.” “Our platform has significant advantages thanks to the unprecedented size of cargo that can be delivered, our proprietary capsid shielding technology and our ability to precisely target virtually any cell surface epitope,” said Vector BioPharma CEO Lorenz Mayr. “We are confident that our approach will offer patients therapies with improved safety, efficacy and specificity. Vector BioPharma: Precision Gene Delivery.”