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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Durham-based Atsena Therapeutics, a gene therapy company developing novel treatments to prevent or reverse certain types of inherited blindness, has raised about $24.5 million in private investment and aims to raise about $7.5 million more.

The funding, detailed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, was provided by 10 investors. The investment follows a $55 million Series A round of venture capital raised in 2020.

Durham-based Hatteras Venture Partners is a founding investor in the company.

Atensa logo

Atsena is a clinical-stage company with gene therapies in development for the treatment of three genetically inherited forms of retinal disease. The company uses adeno-associated virus technologies to introduce corrective genes into retinal cells that have genetic mutations responsible for vision loss.

In August, Atsena announced the first patient had been dosed in its Phase I/II clinical trial for ATSN-201, a sub-retinal injection for the treatment of X-linked retinoschisis, which causes progressive vision loss not correctable with glasses.

The disorder primarily affects males and is typically diagnosed in early childhood. About 30,000 males in the United States and Europe are affected, and there are currently no approved treatments.

A second gene therapy, ATSN-101, is in clinical development for Leber congenital amaurosis 1, which disrupts the function of the retina, causing early and severe vision impairment or blindness. There are currently no approved treatments for LCA1.

Another potential therapy, ATSN-301, is in pre-clinical development to prevent blindness from MYO7A-associated Usher syndrome, which affects the retina and the inner ear. About 20,000 patients in the United States and Europe have the disorder, which currently has no cure.

Atsena was founded in 2019 by ocular gene therapy pioneers Shannon Boye, Ph.D., and Sanford Boye of the University of Florida. Shannon Boye is a company director, and Sanford Boye is the company’s chief technology officer.

In July 2022, Atsena moved into 20,000 square feet of office and laboratory space in the Alexandria Center for Advanced Technologies at 8 Davis Drive in Durham. The company chose to locate in the Research Triangle area for access to “top talent and gene therapy expertise,” according to a company news release.

(C) N.C. Biotech Center