Ventus Therapeutics has raised a $ 100 million series B to take small molecules against traditionally indruggable targets in clinical trials. The pipeline includes NLRP3 inhibitors that Ventus presents as best-in-class candidates in the competitive inflammasome space.
Last year, Ventus broke coverage with $ 60 million from Versant Ventures, its founding investor, and GV. Series A has enabled Ventus to build on early advancements against inflammasome and nucleic acid detection targets with the help of scientific founders at the forefront of structural biology and immunology.
Now, Ventus has expanded its investor syndicate to raise an additional $ 100 million. The cycle, which was led by RA Capital Management, allows Ventus to begin to discover how its candidates behave in people.
Series B funding allows us to advance our five compounds, including two in the clinic in the shorter term, without compromise or additional fundraising. We expect our main program to enter the clinic in late 2022 or early 2023, said Marcelo Bigal, president and CEO of Ventus Therapeutics.
Ventus has yet to disclose the target of its lead candidate, an innate immunity prospect who is in lead optimization, but has shared details of its next most advanced asset. The second drug in the pipeline targets NLRP3, an inflammasome protein complex that has gained a lot of attention.
Several drug developers, large and small, are attacking the target. Roche paid 380 million ($ 451 million) upfront to purchase Inflazome in September after seeing clinical data on its brain-penetrating and peripherally restricted NLRP3 inhibitors. Bristol Myers Squibb and Novartis have also bought their places in space, and a handful of biotechs are pursuing the target independently. Bigal is optimistic about Ventus’ prospects of coming from behind in the congested realm to claim a significant share of the market.
Currently, developmental NLRP3 inhibitors are derived from MCC950, a compound discovered by Pfizer 20 years ago which, although active on NLRP3, has failed clinically due to safety concerns believed to be based on a compound. / scaffolding. The current competing compounds are first generation NLRP3 inhibitors and they appear to be very similar in structure to each other and to MCC950 and therefore lack significant differentiation. It is important to note that the active forms of these competing compounds show no evident level of brain penetration when administered to preclinical species. said the CEO.
Bigal expects Ventus NLRP3 inhibitors to have a unique pharmacological and safety profile because they were discovered in a novel way that made them completely structurally distinct from all other competitive compounds. Notably, Ventus inhibitors lack chemically pro-fibrotic areas of MCC0950, resulting in [in] its shutdown, Bigal said.
Ventus inhibitors include molecules that enter the brain and are restricted to the periphery. Bigal said the two sets of molecules had the best submicromolar power levels in their class. Our novel NLRP3 inhibitors that demonstrate complete brain penetration are unique in the field and have a high likelihood of having a first-order profile from CNS indications, the CEO said.
At all of the Boston and Montreal sites, Ventus has all the resources to integrate the compounds into early clinical development, Bigal said. Ventus currently employs 39 full-time equivalents and plans to increase its staff by 20% next year.
The expanded team will advance existing programs, which cover innate immunity, oncology and neurology, while using the two Ventus platforms to discover high-value drug targets. The main innate immunity programs stem from a platform that enables the discovery of structure-based drugs for critical targets. Ventus has associated this platform with a system for finding new drug sites.
RA Capital sees promise in drug candidates and platforms, leading Series B with help from BVF Partners, Casdin Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, Fonds de solidarit FTQ and Alexandria Venture Investments, as well as backers existing structures of Ventus. It provides the track record for exploring a range of options for the evolution of the business, including an IPO if that’s the desired path for the business, Bigal said.
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