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Limelight Bio has reported a $75M investment focused on a lead gene-therapy ocular program

Limelight Bio, a new biopharmaceutical company, located closely to the University of Pennsylvania’s Centre for Advanced Retinal and Ocular Therapies (CAROT), has raised $75M equity. The company will be focused on the development of gene therapy technologies to build treatments for ophthalmic disorders and several other markets.  The company will be funded by Apple Tree Partners (ATP), a leading life sciences innovation fund.  Limelight Bio’s CEO, Dr. Michael Ehlers, has announced that “gene therapy has made significant advances in recent years, and particularly gene replacement delivered by adeno-associated virus vectors or AAV. The technology platforms in development at Limelight Bio seek to correct disease at its genetic origin in a way that is broad, versatile, scalable and patient-centered. We are eager to accelerate our science to multiple drug candidates for patients for whom current approaches have fallen short.”


According to the company, Limelight Bio aim to develop technologies, advanced targets, and leading drug candidates using pioneering gene correction approaches, including proprietary methods that “persistently correct large genetic defects independent of gene size or mutation pattern without risk of permanent genomic alteration”.  Leading founders of the company include Jean Bennett, MD, PhD of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and co-director of the CAROT program, and Phil Johnson, MD, former Chief Scientific Officer of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. According to their press release, Dr. Johnson’s work on vaccines, virology, and gene therapy “has been foundational for advancing novel therapeutic approaches”, while Dr. Bennett has previously supported the development of Luxturna, a marketed gene therapy product for Leber’s congenital amaurosis.  Limelight Bio is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Dr. Ehlers joined Limelight in October after serving as an Executive Vice President and head of R&D at Biogen Inc. (NASDAQ:BIIB) and before that he has worked in Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) and was a former Duke University neurobiology professor.  The lead investor, Apple Tree Partners (ATP) has over $2.5 billion under management, in which one of the partners includes Dr. Ehler.