Genetic medicine startup ExcepGen recently emerged from stealth mode with a mission to “massively expand” the reach of DNA and RNA-based genetic medicines by increasing their efficacy and tolerability. The company argues that, despite recent progress in mRNA-based vaccines and therapeutics, the cellular response to mRNA must also be addressed for the technology to reach its full potential.
Co-founded by Barbara Mertins and Thomas Folliard, ExcepGen has developed a new technology designed to enhance the potency of nucleic acid therapeutics – changing the way cells respond to therapeutic mRNA by dampening cellular pathways that are undesirable and boosting those that are helpful. The innovation involves encoding a specialized “shield” protein alongside the primary nucleic acid cargo. This improves how cells respond to foreign DNA or RNA and helps prevent negative cell signaling.
“Our mission at ExcepGen is to unlock nucleic acid medicines,” said Folliard, CEO of ExcepGen, which claims to be the first company to engineer how cells interact with mRNA. “This funding validates our aim to make RNA and DNA-based drugs a cornerstone of therapeutics. We are excited to use this new funding to prove out the value of our technology in different therapeutic spaces.”
The San Francisco-based company, also backed by longevity-focused decentralized organization VitaDAO, has secured seed funding totalling $14 million, including a recent investment round led by RA Capital Management and supported by Gravity Fund, Sam Altman’s Apollo Projects, and others.
“Engineering cellular response to mRNA vaccines and therapeutics represents a significant leap forward in the development of mRNA technology and, we believe, ultimately allows mRNA technology to reach its full potential,” said Seth DeGroot of Gravity Fund.
The new funding will be used to expedite ExcepGen’s research and development initiatives, as well as strengthening its collaborative efforts with other companies in the genetic medicine field.
“We are excited to support the potential of ExcepGen’s novel platform to enhance nucleic acid therapeutics across a broad range of indications,” said Cosmas Giallourakis of RA Capital Management.