CAMBRIDGE & LEXINGTON, Mass.– Korro Bio, Inc., a leading RNA editing company focused on the discovery and development of novel genetic medicines,and Frequency Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: FREQ) today announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement to combine the companies in an all-stock transaction. The combined company will focus on the advancement of Korro Bio’s portfolio of RNA editing programs, is expected to operate under Korro Bio, Inc. and will apply to trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “KRRO”.
Korro Bio has secured commitments from a syndicate of leading life sciences investors for a planned concurrent $117 million financing, co-led by Surveyor Capital (a Citadel company) and Cormorant Asset Management and participation from Atlas Venture, NEA, Platanus, Qiming Venture Partners USA, MP Healthcare Venture Management, Eventide Asset Management, Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, Invus, Point72, Verition Fund Management, Monashee Investment Management, Sixty Degree Capital and additional investors. The financing is expected to close immediately prior to the completion of the merger. The combined company is expected to have approximately $170 million in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities at close after estimated transaction expenses. The pro-forma cash balance is expected to provide cash runway through several value-creating milestones and into 2026. The merger and related financing are expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2023, subject to approval by Frequency Therapeutics’ stockholders and other customary closing conditions.
“RNA editing, specifically utilizing our OPERA™ platform, holds significant promise to transform the therapeutic landscape for rare and common diseases. The ability to make a single base change on RNA using a simple drug product provides an opportunity to modify disease in an unprecedented manner,” said Ram Aiyar, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Korro Bio. “The power of our OPERA platform is exemplified by our lead program in AATD, where we have demonstrated an increase of normal A1AT protein to 85% of total protein in circulation, which has the potential of disease-modifying effects. We are committed to creating value for Korro Bio’s and Frequency Therapeutics’ stockholders as we work to develop a novel class of innovative medicines that have the potential to improve the lives of patients.”
Korro Bio is rapidly advancing its lead program for AATD to a clinical trial and intends to submit a regulatory filing in the second half of 2024. AATD is an inherited disease that results from a single genetic defect that manifests itself as a broad spectrum of clinical pathologies. A majority of the patients are diagnosed later in life, having multiple clinical effects including liver disease and lung disease, eventually leading to organ transplant in some cases. Studies suggest that clinical unawareness of AATD results in a significant number of patients that go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with approximately 100,000 patients in the U.S. currently identified with AATD. Korro Bio’s lead program is focused on precisely and transiently editing the genetic mutation in RNA rather than permanently altering DNA. Korro Bio has also demonstrated the ability to edit within the coding region of the SERPINA1 gene showing translation from the PiZ mouse model to non-human primates.
“Following comprehensive review and consideration of our strategic options, management and our Board of Directors believe the merger with Korro Bio provides the best opportunity for the company and its stockholders,” said David. L. Lucchino, Chief Executive Officer of Frequency Therapeutics. “Korro Bio’s RNA editing technology leverages genetics transiently, expanding the target space to intervene in biology in a unique manner. We are confident in their ability to bring forward important genetic medicines with the potential to transform the lives of patients.”
Korro Bio’s proprietary RNA editing platform enables a breadth of indications with an initial focus on six potential programs that are all wholly owned, including AATD.
“This transformative transaction enables us to take our lead program in AATD into the clinic and progress our pipeline,” said Vineet Agarwal, Chief Financial Officer of Korro Bio. “In addition, we will be able to fund our company through several value-creating milestones into 2026.”
Management and Organization
Following the consummation of the merger, the combined company will be headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The combined company will be led by current members of the Korro Bio management team, including:
- Ram Aiyar, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer
- Steve Colletti, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer
- Vineet Agarwal, Chief Financial Officer
- Todd Chappell, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Portfolio Planning
- Shelby Walker, Senior Vice President, General Counsel
- Venkat Krishnamurthy, PhD, Senior Vice President, Head of Platform
- Stephanie Engels, Senior Vice President, HR, People and Culture
The Board of Directors of the combined company is expected to be comprised of seven members, consisting of four members designated by Korro Bio, one member designated by Frequency Therapeutics, which will be Frequency’s Chief Executive Officer, David L. Lucchino, and two independent directors. In connection with this transaction, Alex Silverstein from Point72 and Jordan Baumhardt, PhD from Eventide Asset Management will resign from their director roles from the Korro Bio Board of Directors with immediate effect.