Exicure is a Chicago based Biotech that is backed by the Microsoft Founder Bill Gates with the target of creating treatments with capability to silence genes to treat diseases like cancer.
Led by 36 year old David Giljohann Exicure in September raised Twenty Million Dollars from investors including Bill Gates, AbbVie Ventures, Groupon Cofounder Eric Lefkofsky, Microsoft executive Craig Mundie(Retired) and more. A total of Sixty Two million Dollars was raised for the star up. Mr David Giljohann also happens to be one of Business Insider’s under Forty top leaders in the Biotech and Pharmaceutical Industry.
Exicure is creating drugs built from Rbonucleic Acid which has the capacity to silence mutated genes that results in faulty proteins that are responsible for diseases like psoriasis or cancer. Ribonucleic Acid is the instruction required by cells to make proteins so the idea is being able to silence mutated genes then you can stop faulty proteins from being created.
The problems faced by these treatments is the difficulty in getting these treatments into the cells you target which is what Exicure believes it can fix and comes in.
Dr David Giljohann while working on his PhD at the Northwestern University built structures made out of Nanoparticles and DNA or RNA and in the semblance of Koosh balls with the aim of using these structures to deliver RNA or DNA directly into cells virtually “anywhere your inside touches your outside,” so your skin, lungs, eyes, and gastrointestinal track, Giljohann said.
So, for example, for psoriasis, a skin condition, the drug is applied on the skin. The hope is that by treating diseases locally, they might work better than a drug that’s swallowed or injected and spread around the entire body.
“We’re leveraging the fact that we can get into so many cells and tissues to go after local delivery,” Giljohann said.
So far, Exicure has to its credit three drugs in early clinical trials, two to treat psoriasis, and one that’s being looked at to treat solid tumors.
Exicure is not the only known company working to develop RNA-based treatments. The field has encountered a number of challenges, although in September, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals announced it had received positive results for its trial of an RNA-based drug to treat a condition called hereditary ATTR amyloidosis with polyneuropathy, in which amyloid proteins build up in the body. The company now plans to file for FDA approval.
So far, Exicure has three drugs in early clinical trials, two to treat psoriasis, and one that’s being looked at to treat solid tumors.