“I’m excited because this is the first time in history that we’re able to fully eliminate the HIV virus by excising it from the viral genomes. Once this is proven, the platform can be applied to any virus.”
-Thomas Malcolm, PhD, President and CEO, Excision BioTherapeutics
We are excited to announce our recent investment in Excision BioTherapeutics, a company using CRISPR gene-editing technology to cure viral infectious diseases.
Excision’s President and CEO, Dr. Thomas Malcolm, has over 16 years of experience studying the biochemistry and epigenetics of HIV and other viral diseases. When he and his team first learned about CRISPR they immediately saw its potential to transform the standard approaches to treating infectious disease and quickly worked to secure the licensing rights to use CRISPR to attack, and hopefully cure, viral infections.
We were introduced to Dr. Malcolm through Stuart Peterson at ARTIS Ventures. Stuart and I have been co-investors in several companies over the years, including a very successful investment in the first institutional round of Stemcentrx in early 2012. At the time, Stemcentrx was harnessing recent advancements in stem-cell research to develop an elegant cure for certain forms of cancer. Eventually the Stemcentrx therapies were so successful that the company was acquired by Abbvie in 2016 for US$10 billion.
When I started researching Excision and learning what they had already achieved with CRISPR I was amazed. Then when I spoke to Dr. Malcolm I quickly had the same feeling as when I met Brian Slingerland (CEO of Stemcentrx): the latest advancements in biotechnology were enabling new approaches to solving problems that had been confounding biotechnologists for decades. These new methods were not incremental improvements to older technologies; they were completely novel, step-function advancements. As Dr. Malcolm told me, “We’re no longer sweeping viruses under the rug and treating the symptoms or trying to keep them contained; we’re addressing them directly.”
At Oakhouse Partners, we believe the most valuable companies are the ones who contribute meaningfully to solving the world’s most pressing challenges. We partner with teams that have the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life for millions of people, and we are deeply proud of the challenges that our portfolio companies are solving. Excision BioTherapeutics fits firmly into our family. Strong science, a team of incredibly talented people, and the opportunity to team up with ARTIS Ventures again made the investment decision an easy one.
Excision currently has several CRISPR programs in development, including one for HIV, which is the furthest along. Globally, over 35 million people live with HIV today. If Excision succeeds with an HIV cure, there is a clear opportunity for them to develop cures for other viral diseases such as Hepatitis B, HPV, JC Virus and others, improving the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
We are proud to be a part of Excision’s mission. Please join us as we congratulate Dr. Malcolm and his team on closing their financing round and wish them success on their important journey ahead.