Syncona’s sister act

How Syncona's family of five gene therapy portfolio companies share recipes

With the final pieces of its gene therapy portfolio in place, Syncona Investment Management Ltd. thinks its five “sister companies” are poised to capitalize on recent regulatory and technological advances in gene therapy, and push the modality beyond rare diseases.

The firm designed its portfolio to find low-hanging fruit in gene therapy’s most accessible target organs, and to address the modality’s two biggest challenges -- manufacturing and delivery.

“We set up a road map to build essentially three therapeutics companies -- one in the eye, one in the liver, and one in the central nervous system -- and acquire or build two platforms that we think will be strategic,” said Christopher Hollowood, chief investment officer and managing partner at Syncona. “If you did that, you’d have an encompassing set of companies that cover basically all of the opportunity set for gene therapy.”

The June debuts of CNS therapeutics company SwanBio Therapeutics Ltd. and ophthalmic delivery play Orbit Biomedical Inc. marked the completion of Syncona’s strategy, which the firm mapped out in 2012 and 2013 after launching with £200 million ($263 million) from Wellcome Trust. In 2012, Wellcome added £50 million ($65.7 million) to the fund.

At the time, the company was called Syncona Partners LLP. In 2016, it was acquired by cancer-focused investment firm BACIT Ltd. to form a publicly traded life sciences investment company under the name Syncona, which has a market cap of £1.7 billion ($2.2 billion).

"If you did that, you'd have an encompassing set

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