Verily pivots to nanoparticle drug delivery


The Crispr company Verve Therapeutics was launched this week with a funding round of $58.5m led by Google’s venture arm, GV. And Verve is also partnering with Google’s sister company Verily, whose nanoparticle technology will be used to help develop drugs for coronary artery disease. This is a bit of a change of plan on Verily’s part – it had initially intended to use the nanoparticles, on which it has been working since it was still a part of Google X, for diagnostic applications. The notion then was that the particles would attach to particular types of cells and be detected by a separate device. But the group now says that, theoretically at least, nanoparticles can be engineered to deliver therapies to individual cells or tissues, though it admits that it will be tough to develop a product capable of targeting drug delivery that precisely. It is focusing on lipid-based nanoparticles including liposomes, which it hopes will fuse with the targeted cell’s membrane and deliver the therapeutic payload – Verve’s Crispr nucleases and base editors. Combining two still unproven concepts is risky; still, with a market cap of more than $800bn, Google will be able to cope if its investment goes south.

Verve Therapeutics’ venture funding
Date Round Investment ($m) Lead investor Investor
May 7, 2019 Series A 58.5 Yes GV
      - Arch Venture Partners
      - F-Prime Capital
      - Biomatics Capital
Source: Company communications. 

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