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May 7 - GV, Alphabet Inc's venture capital arm, led a $58.5 million investment to launch Verve Therapeutics, a new biotech focused on developing therapies that edit the human genome to treat heart diseases.
Gene editing therapies are seen to have huge scope in treating a range of diseases but none are currently approved. Additionally, concerns about safety and the permanent harmful effects the editing could have on humans persist.
It will be years before Verve is able to market its therapies, but the company intends to use funds from its Series A to begin early testing in animals.
The company said it will only develop treatments that involve editing adult cells, so the effects of genetic manipulation cannot be passed on to future generations.
Verve plans to target adults at risk of coronary artery disease, the leading cause of death worldwide, by editing their genes to mirror those of people whose naturally occurring genes have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
"Poor adherence, costs, side effects, limited access... all these challenges have limited the impact existing heart medications like cholesterol-lowering statins have had," Sekar Kathiresan, who will take over as chief executive officer in July, told Reuters.
"With our therapy, we could change the treatment paradigm for heart disease from chronic care, daily pills or monthly injections to a one-and-done approach."
Besides Alphabet's GV, other investors included ARCH Venture Partners, F-Prime Capital and Biomatics Capital, the company said on Tuesday. (Reporting by Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)