Commercial Series A funding by Orbital raises $270 million with...

Series A funding by Orbital raises $270 million with the goal of developing next-gen RNA meds.


Despite winds blowing against the biotechnology industry in recent months, Orbital has been able to raise $270 million in Series A funding, as reported by the company this week. This is the highest amount any biotech has been able to raise so far this year. Arch Venture Partners led the financing alongside other investors, including Newpath Partners, Alexandria Venture Investments, and Abu Dhabi Growth Fund, a16z.

According to Orbital co-founder and CEO Giuseppe “Pino” Ciaramella, the reason that Orbital was able to raise sufficient funds that will provide the company with resilience over the years was because of its collection of RNA tools and tech as well as the team members.

Ciaramella himself is not only serving as the president of gene therapy biotech Beam Therapeutics but also has experience working at Big Pharma Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Boehringer Ingelheim after which he switched to Moderna where he met Gilles Besin, Ph.D. who is the current Chief Scientific Officer and part of the original top team.

Two new additions have been made to the team as well, including Jonathan Piazza as chief financial officer and Niru Subramanian as chief operating officer. The $270 million financing will go towards building the company out from the almost 40-person team that is split across the two main company hubs in Cambridge and San Francisco near Stanford.

The funds collected will be dedicated to building a team and selecting a lead program since the firm believes that its technology can be applied in many directions such as drugs for autoimmune diseases and cancer, next-generation RNA vaccines, and protein replacement therapies. Platform development, conducting research, and accelerating research are top priorities.

Massachusetts-based Orbital was founded by Ciaramella last year alongside a host of other industry veterans such as Maraganore, former founding CEO of Alnylam, with the goal of improving global health by releasing the full potential of RNA-based medicines. Ciaramella was able to do so in the past when he worked as the chief scientific officer of the infectious disease unit at Moderna where he helped develop some of the first mRNA vaccines to be dosed in humans.

“RNA really has the opportunity for being such a disruptive tool,” Ciaramella said, “And we have essentially collected under one roof one of the most expansive toolboxes that I’m aware of in RNA medicines.”

Orbital’s toolbox includes linear RNA, circular RNA, and lipid nanoparticle (LNP) tech, which is the most comprehensive of all the companies currently crowding the RNA market.

Although Orbital has not yet named specific disease areas it’s prioritizing, Ciaramella has explained that Orbital’s portfolio currently expands across three strategic pillars: next-gen vaccines, immunomodulation—therapies that take aim at modifying immune responses—and protein replacement.

The firm’s new financing positions, however, enable it to submit its first regulatory filing. While a specific timeline to nominate programs has not yet been announced, it is predicted that development can be expected in the next 4 years.

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