Frequency Therapeutics raised $32 million in a Series A financing to support development of its Progenitor Cell Activation (PCA™) platform. The technology uses small molecules to trigger the division and differentiation of tissue-specific Lgr5+ progenitor cells and is initially being developed to generate new sensory cells in the inner ear as a treatment for noise-induced hearing loss. The Massachusetts-based firm says other potential applications of the platform could span skin disorders, muscle regeneration, and gastrointestinal diseases.
Frequency’s Series A fundraising round was led by Cobro Ventures. Other investors included Morningside Ventures, Emigrant Capital, Korean Investment Partnership, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, and additional U.S. and international investors.
The PCA platform was developed by Robert Langer, Sc.D., and Jeffrey Karp, Ph.D., at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Harvard Medical School. Frequency was established in 2015 to develop the platform for therapeutic indications and has an exclusive global license to relevant IP from MIT and Partners Healthcare. “Bob Langer's and Jeff Karp’s vision is to gain much of the same effect as gene therapy and CRISPR by using small molecules, which we believe are safer and allow for easier delivery,” stated Marc Cohen, co-founder of Cobro Ventures and chairman of Frequency’s board of directors, which was established earlier this year. “Our data is very compelling and we are excited to be moving to the clinic in the next 12 to 18 months.”
Frequency’s co-founders published in vitro research demonstrating use of their small-molecule approach to trigger the differentiation of Lgr5-expressing progenitor cells into sensory hair cells, in the February 21 issue of Cell Reports in a paper titled “Clonal Expansion of Lgr5-Positive Cells from Mammalian Cochlea and High-Purity Generation of Sensory Hair Cells.”
Commenting on the initial, hearing loss indicaiton for the PCA platform, David Lucchino, Frequency’s co-founder, president and CEO, added, “With no effective therapy available, this presents an enormous market opportunity and we believe there is even broader potential in indications beyond hearing loss with the further development of the PCA platform.”