The company, called 4D Molecular Therapeutics Inc., doesn't expect to put its first three experimental single-shot cures for a range of diseases into clinical trials until next year. Yet it already has key partnerships with well-known drug makers Roche, AstraZeneca plc and gene therapy pioneer uniQure NV. Founders David Schaffer, The Hubbard Howe Jr. Distinguished Professor of Biochemical Engineering, and Dr. David Kirn have worked on so-called "viral vectors" — the protein shells ridden by viruses to skip through the body — since before the company was formed in 2013. In gene therapy, those vehicles are engineered to remove the disease-triggering part of a virus and used instead to carry correct versions of genes to replace mutated genes.