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Sean Ainsworth joins Immusoft as its new CEO. (Immusoft Photo)

Immusoft is looking to get its gene therapy technology into clinical trials, and the Seattle startup announced Friday that it has raised $3 million to kickstart that process. The funding is first part of the company’s ongoing Series B round.

Immusoft also announced a leadership change: Veteran biotech executive Sean Ainsworth is joining the company as its new CEO, filling the shoes of the company’s Founder and longtime CEO Matthew Scholz. Scholz is transitioning to become the company’s CTO and will retain his position on the board of directors.

The $3 million round was led by the 600 Mile Challenge Fund, which also invested in Ainsworth’s previous company, RetroSense Therapeutics. He led RetroSense for almost seven years and oversaw its acquisition by Allergen in 2016.

“These are exciting times for Immusoft,” Scholz said in a press release. “Sean is the right leader to guide Immusoft as it transitions from pre-clinical studies into human clinical trials.”

Immusoft has been developing its unique immune cell technology since it was founded in 2009. The tech uses blood cells from a patient to create therapeutic proteins that are targeted to treat diseases.

The process is called immune system programming, or ISP, and was invented by Nobel laureate David Baltimore in 2006. Immusoft has been expanding on the technology and developing treatments based on it that use special enzymes and proteins to treat diseases, including treating HIV and muscle loss.

Its most advanced treatment, which is about to enter clinical trials in humans, is aimed at a genetic condition called Hurler’s Syndrome that is often fatal before children reach the age of 10. The $3 million will help push that treatment into clinical trials and get it one step closer to FDA approval.

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