Newbury Park biotech startup Capsida Biotherapeutics on Thursday emerged from stealth mode with a whopping $140 million in capital.


“Stealth mode,” meaning a company that avoids publicity while furthering its research, ended with a $50 million Series A round led by Westlake Village BioPartners in Westlake Village and Bay Area Versant Ventures, coupled with a $90 million collaboration with AbbVie in Chicago, Capsida said in a statement.


The company plans to use capital to expand its 50-member team to about 100 scientists this year and pursue other strategic and financial investment opportunities.


Capsida focuses on creating tissue-targeted gene therapies for multiple types of diseases, the company said in a statement. These therapies are developed using adeno-associated virus, or AAV engineering, and a genetic cargo development platform. The technology generates modified capsids, or a “cage” that protects a viral genome from environmental conditions, to be more easily targeted by the body.


“Our high-throughput AAV engineering platform is designed to identify differentiated capsids and cargos that will successfully deliver gene therapies with superior cell and tissue targeting and safety profiles than current-generation products in both (central nervous system) and non-(central nervous system) diseases,” Dr. Robert Cuddihy, chief executive of Capsida, said in a statement. “We are very pleased to debut today with the backing of experienced company creators in Versant and Westlake, as well as with a significant pharma partnership with AbbVie.” 


In addition to $90 million in up front and equity investment capital, Capsida is eligible to receive $530 million in future development and commercial milestone payments, and single-digit royalty payments on product sales from AbbVie. 


In return, Capsida will develop therapies for three neurogenerative diseases.


Capsida’s core technology originated at Caltech in Pasadena, in the laboratory of Dr. Viviana Gradinaru.


“Capsida is another example of the growing biotech hub in the Greater Los Angeles area,” Dr. Beth Seidenberg, founding managing director at Westlake Village BioPartners and a Capsida board member, added in a statement. “Westlake Village BioPartners is proud to be catalyzing this growth. Capsida is led by an outstanding team of executives and we are looking forward to growing the team to support our internal pipeline and the AbbVie collaboration.”