Organizations unite with world-class scientific and AAV technology leaders to find a cure for life-altering and fatal ultra-rare disease

Brooklyn, NY and Raleigh, NC (Oct 28, 2020)—Phoenix Nest, a New York based biotechnology company will partner with Columbus Children’s Foundation (CCF) to advance the development and manufacturing of a potential gene therapy treatment for Sanfilippo syndrome type C, an ultra-rare metabolic disorder, also referred to as MPS IIIC. 

It is estimated that only 1 in a million children are born with MPS IIIC with less than 500 children worldwide known to have this devastating disease. Individuals affected by this type of Sanfilippo syndrome lack a single enzyme necessary to break down long chains of sugar molecules called mucopolysaccharides (also known as glycosaminoglycans or GAGs). These GAGs are left to build up in every cell of the body causing catastrophic effects to the CNS and throughout the body. Children appear normal at birth and it isn’t until the children fail to meet typical milestones that parents become worried. As the disease progresses, children lose all their skills including the ability to talk, walk, and swallow. The disease is terminal and there is no current treatment.

“MPS IIIC, like many ultra-rare diseases, is not being addressed by large biotech and pharma companies due to small patient populations and the significant investment required for research, development and manufacturing,” commented Laura Hameed, Columbus Children’s Foundation managing director. “This is the basis for our mission and the formation of a nonprofit biotech foundation focused on accelerating development and access to curative gene therapies for children with ultra-rare genetic conditions at an more affordable cost that does not lead to access issues.”

Phoenix Nest founder and Chief Financial Officer, Jill Wood, is a fierce patient advocate and mother whose son Jonah, along with approximately 500 children around the world, suffer from this rare condition.  Jill, along with her husband Jeremy Weishaar and a renowned scientific advisory board, have facilitated and funded research for potential enzyme replacement therapies (IIID), chaperone therapy (IIIC) and stem cell/gene therapy (IIIB).

According to Ms. Wood, “Like many small biotechs, we lack the funding and expertise to advance potential treatments and cures for this devastating disease, but we know a cure is in sight. Working collaboratively with the Columbus Children’s Foundation, we will gain access to world-class scientific and manufacturing expertise, saving millions of dollars and time, a luxury my son Jonah and many children like him do not have.”

The partnership between CCF and Phoenix Nest is a leading example of the effort needed to bridge the translational gap that slows or impedes many rare disease programs with curative potential. The nonprofit biotechnology foundation model pioneered by CCF plays an important role in the rare disease ecosystem by partnering with leading researchers and contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs). These include companies such as Viralgen Vector Core, a leading manufacturer of adeno-associated virus (AAV) medicines, and Asklepios BioPharmaceutical (AskBio), a company revolutionizing life-saving gene therapeutics and genetic medicine technology.

“This is the third program we will put into development or manufacturing in the last two months,” according to Hameed. “This partnership reflects exceptional progress toward our goal of accelerating treatments for programs that are scientifically promising, but not commercially viable. We believe no child should be left behind when cures are in reach and are thrilled to partner with organizations like Phoenix Nest to advance our mission to bring gene therapy cures to children with the urgency they deserve.”

About Columbus Children’s Foundation (CCF)

CCF’s mission is to ensure equitable and affordable access to the most effective gene therapy solutions for children with ultra-rare genetic diseases. CCF uses a nonprofit model to partner and accelerate gene therapy treatments for programs with very small patient populations that are often overlooked because the economics don’t add up for those using a traditional commercial development model. Through strategic partnerships with other foundations, industry leaders, patient groups and philanthropic donors; CCF aims to bring the scientific and funding resources together on behalf of the children and families who must endure the devastating outcomes of ultra-rare diseases. CCF accelerates hope and transforms the lives of those fighting these devastating diseases.  Learn more at 

About Phoenix Nest

Phoenix Nest is a bespoke virtual biotech with one mission, to provide a treatment for the children suffering from Sanfilippo syndrome. Founded by a mother of a Sanfilippo child, Phoenix Nest has sponsored various research initiatives with leading scientists and medical experts to find treatments and cures for all types Sanfilippo syndrome. Led by parents of children with Sanfilippo syndrome, the company operates first and foremost in the best interest of children in critical need for a cure.