Limelight Bio Emerges with $75 Million to Develop Next Generation Gene Therapies to Overcome Limitations of Current Treatments

Multi-platform, proprietary technologies address foremost unmet needs in gene correction and delivery

Eight novel and mechanistically distinct gene therapy programs

Near-term clinical programs enabled by exclusive partnership with University of Pennsylvania Center for Advanced Retinal and Ocular Therapies (CAROT)

Former Biogen Head of R&D, Michael Ehlers, MD, PhD to lead as Chief Executive Officer

PHILADELPHIA & CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Limelight Bio, a privately held, multi-platform, multi-disease biopharmaceutical company developing novel gene therapies, raised $75 million in new financing funded by Apple Tree Partners (ATP), a leading life sciences innovation fund. Founded in 2017, Limelight Bio has developed proprietary technologies, advanced targets and leading drug candidates designed to overcome key limitations of current gene therapy and gene editing approaches. Initial areas of focus include severe retinal, hematologic/metabolic, neurologic and hearing loss diseases where no current therapies exist. Limelight Bio is led by CEO Michael Ehlers, MD, PhD, with operations in Philadelphia and Cambridge.

Gene therapy has made significant advances in recent years, and particularly gene replacement delivered by adeno-associated virus vectors or AAV. Yet, most genetic diseases are not addressed by this approach,” said Dr. Ehlers. “The technology platforms in development at Limelight Bio seek to correct disease at its genetic origin in a way that is broad, versatile, scalable and patient-centered. We are eager to accelerate our science to multiple drug candidates for patients for whom current approaches have fallen short.”

Limelight Bio is building an industry-leading platform to develop technologies, advanced targets, and leading drug candidates designed to treat more diseases for many more patients. The company is pioneering gene correction across unprecedented areas, including proprietary methods that persistently correct large genetic defects independent of gene size or mutation pattern without risk of permanent genomic alteration. Founders include Jean Bennett, MD, PhD of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and co-director of the CAROT program, and Phil Johnson, MD, former Chief Scientific Officer of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Johnson’s work on vaccines, virology, and gene therapy has been foundational for advancing novel therapeutic approaches. Dr. Bennett’s ground-breaking research led to the development of an FDA-approved and marketed gene therapy product and she is a scientific advisor for Limelight Bio.

There is great potential for Limelight’s technology to transform gene therapy far beyond where it is today,” said Dr. Bennett. “With these advanced tools and technologies, we now have the means to go straight to the origin of the most complex genetic diseases. It could become the foundation for a new class of medicines.”

We believe Limelight Bio has the potential to leapfrog the prevailing gene therapy and editing approaches to tackle a much broader array of genetic disorders,” said ATP Managing Partner Seth Harrison, MD. “With Mike Ehlers joining as CEO, we have added fantastic R&D leadership to what looks to us to be break-out technology to create the first gene therapy-based pharmaceutical company.”

About Limelight Bio

Limelight Bio is a multi-platform, multi-disease focused biopharmaceutical company expanding the limits of gene therapy. Headquartered in Philadelphia and Cambridge, Limelight Bio’s proprietary technologies are designed to overcome limitations of currently available viral-based treatments to address a wider range of diseases. Limelight Bio was created and funded by Apple Tree Partners, a leading life sciences venture capital firm. For more information, visit

About Apple Tree Partners

ATP is a leading life sciences fund with global presence and reach that is developing the next generation of transformative biotechnology companies. ATP brings together $2.5 billion in assets and available funding, one of the sector’s most highly selective funding methodologies and a seasoned team of venture partners to create a proven hub-and-spoke model. ATP works with the world’s most innovative life scientists and provides the capital, expertise, and operational intelligence to build new companies and drive long-term value. For more information visit


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