Emily’s Entourage also advances research and therapeutic development with strategic investments made through a venture philanthropy model. In 2020, EE was approached by multiple companies looking for early-stage investments — a reflection of our reputation as both a strategic partner that offers significant value and credibility in the field and a funding body. EE is evaluating a number of these opportunities.
This work builds on the organization’s earlier success with venture philanthropy. In 2019, we reported on the pivotal role EE played in conceiving of, engaging the scientific community and Militia Hill Ventures, and providing the seed funding to launch Spirovant Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company focused on gene therapy for CF. Spirovant Sciences has since been acquired twice, most recently by Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma of Japan, and is rapidly advancing two novel, mutation-agnostic gene therapy programs for CF using adeno-associated virus (AAV) and lentivirus vectors.
In September 2020, Spirovant Sciences was granted Orphan Drug and Rare Pediatric Disease Designations for its lead product candidate, SP-101 (AAV), by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These designations provide financial incentives to the drug developer and qualify this new CF therapy for accelerated review, thereby expediting the regulatory approval process.
Expanding on Our Expertise
The value EE offers the scientific community is more than just the funding it provides through its grant program and venture philanthropy investments. In 2020, we worked with 10 early-stage companies, serving as a hub of expertise and connections in the CF nonsense mutation and anti-infective spaces. Specifically, we provided a range of services, including identification of key opinion leaders, guidance on clinical development and the therapeutic landscape, patient perspectives, and insights on unmet clinical needs, serving as a connector of people, ideas, technology, and resources.