An investment by Dietmar Hopp almost went unnoticed during the summer break. The Heidelberg biotech company AaviGen completed a second financing round of 17 million euros at the end of July. The funds are intended to bring precision gene therapies for heart failure into the clinic. The company partly emerged from projects supported by the German Center for Heart and Circulation Research (DZHK) within the framework of translational cardiovascular research.
Founded in 2019, AaviGen GmbH focuses on the gene carrier, the vector used, in the development of gene therapies for cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary diseases, as the specificity of AAV vectors for the desired cardiac muscle cells often poses a problem. On AaviGen's technology platform, synthetic variants are produced from naturally occurring adenoviruses. The researchers then modify the surface of the AAV so that they only replicate in cardiac muscle cells and can only introduce the transported gene cassette into these cells. According to the researchers, a low dose is sufficient, which also reduces side effects. So far, the risk of such adverse side effects has been high.
The full financing is now provided by DH-LT Investments GmbH, an investment company of Dietmar Hopp. The billionaire and experienced investor was likely convinced by the broad application spectrum of AaviGen's technology platform, which promises to safely and specifically direct adeno-associated viruses into the heart. The company's flagship gene therapy project is the modulation of the Calcium-induced Calcium Releasing Cascade (CICR), whose path to the clinic is now expected to be accelerated.