Editor’s note: Startup Spotlight is a regular weekly feature in WRAL TechWire. This week’s feature comes from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Innovate Carolina. 


CHAPEL HILL – For most people, a small cut on the hand or foot isn’t a big deal. They can slap a Band-Aid on it and get on with life. But for those with hemophilia, even the smallest cut or bruise can lead to severe bleeding and other health issues. Caused by a mutation of genes that provide the ability to make clotting proteins, hemophilia occurs in about one of every 5,000 male births. Although rare, it can occur in females as well. And for many of these patients, hemophilia also causes progressive joint deterioration or repeated bleeding into their joints.

Current gene therapies for hemophilia – while exciting – are limited because they are only for patients who don’t experience immune response issues after receiving a therapeutic infusion. Plus, most therapies are designed to work for patients who have either hemophilia A or B without inhibitors,  but none of the therapies treat both types of the disease with or without inhibors.

But now, GeneVentiv Therapeutics is developing the first universal gene therapy for all types of hemophilia, including the most difficult cases. By working to bring breakthrough therapies to market, this UNC-affiliated startup is also instilling expanded hope in hemophilia patients who wrestle with the daily realities of their life threatening, inherited disorder.

“These patients suffer from tremendous problems, including neurological problems, gastrointestinal problems and joint deterioration, which reduces the quality and the duration of their lives,” says Damon Race, CEO, GeneVentiv. “Until now, there’s a group of patients that have had no hope of benefiting from exciting gene therapies that are in development. We’re able to give these patients new hope with a first-in-class gene therapy that can treat all types of hemophilia, delivering patients from these problems and rescuing them from a lifetime of weekly infusions or repeated injections. If we can give them a treatment and give them hope, we’ve got an opportunity to really change lives.”