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GreenLight Biosciences Receives $3.3 Million Grant

September 15, 2020

GreenLight Biosciences Receives $3.3 Million Grant to Develop Sickle Cell Disease Cure Using mRNA Gene Therapy

BOSTON, Sept. 15, 2020 — GreenLight Biosciences has received a $3.3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop new mRNA-based gene therapies for Sickle Cell Disease and other global health challenges.

The funding will support GreenLight’s research and testing of affordable therapies using the company’s novel messenger RNA (mRNA) approach. This technology is already being used to develop vaccine candidates for infectious diseases, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

While initial research will focus on a cure for Sickle Cell Disease, GreenLight plans to develop a versatile platform to address a variety of diseases affecting underserved patient populations, such as treating HIV in developing countries.

Sickle Cell Disease is a group of inherited blood disorders in which red blood cells develop abnormally, causing pain and anemia. More than 4 million people currently suffer from the disease, with another 40+ million having the sickle cell trait, which can be passed on to future generations. The disease primarily targets people of African, Hispanic, or Middle Eastern descent. Current treatment regimens – including blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants – are costly, invasive, and impractical for treating large segments of affected patient populations.

“Funders are recognizing the potential of our innovative approach to gene editing that, in combination with our proprietary RNA manufacturing capability, has the potential to deliver accessible gene therapies and improve human health globally,” said Marta Ortega-Valle, senior vice president of Human Health and Corporate Development at GreenLight Biosciences. “Finding a safe and effective therapy is critical, but equally important is the ability to produce it affordably for broader access. We are grateful for the Gates Foundation’s support to advance novel approaches for populations in which those therapies are currently out of reach.”

Using RNA as its core, GreenLight Biosciences is working to develop an in vivo gene therapy that could ultimately offer a cure to Sickle Cell Disease.

Once the therapy candidate is validated and moves into clinical use, GreenLight Biosciences’ biomanufacturing platform will accelerate production of affordable treatments at scale. “Manufacturing sufficient quantities of high-quality RNA at an accessible cost is critical for achieving the full potential of new therapies that aim to reach a global patient population. That capability does not yet exist in the market, but GreenLight’s end-to-end, self-contained manufacturing platform aims to make that possible for all mRNA-based therapies and vaccines,” Ortega-Valle added.