3D rendering representing interaction between brain neurons
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Clinical-stage biotechnology company Rapport Therapeutics, which has a focus of developing targeted small molecule drugs for the treatment of neurological disorders, launched today with a $100 million Series A financing led by Third Rock Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners and Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

The company’s lead candidate is currently in Phase I for the treatment of drug-resistant seizure disorders. Its platform builds on the discoveries of its scientific founders, including Chief Scientific Officer, Davide Bredt, MD, PhD, which employs receptor-associated proteins (RAPs) to discover small molecules that act selectively on genetically and clinically validated targets. According to a press release announcing the launch, this method allows for the precise targeting of the subset of neurons where neurological disorders originate by focusing only on specific regions underlying the pathophysiology of these diseases.

“Rapport is bringing together pioneers in neuroscience to create revolutionary treatment options for patients who have long endured the shortcomings of nonspecific therapeutics,” said Abraham Ceesay, Rapport’s CEO. “The era of precision neuroscience is upon us, and patients’ needs have never been greater. At Rapport we believe that by leveraging the discovery of receptor-associated proteins by our founders, we are poised to develop precision medicines that will greatly improve the lives of patients living with neurologic disorders.”

Ceesay, newly named as CEO, brings nearly 20 years of experience in the biopharma industry, most recently at neuroscience company Cerevel Therapeutics and neuroendocrine firm Tiburio Therapeutics.

The company said that its approach to treating neurological disorders differs from current treatments that act at targets ubiquitously expressed in the nervous system, and sometimes throughout the body. This approach can lead to problems with both drug efficacy and drug safety. Instead, the company builds on the work of Bredt and others who uncovered how RAPs modulate receptor expression and function. Using a combination of genomics, protein sciences and imaging technologies, Rapport is able to identify novel RAPs that inform the development of more precise, and targeted, small molecule drugs.

As noted on its website, “On a molecular scale, our deep understanding of the intricate relationships between receptors, their associated proteins, and their distributions in specific cell types and brain regions enables us to precisely direct medicines to the neural circuits underlying disease pathophysiology.”

The company was created via a partnership between Third Rock Ventures and Janssen Neuroscience (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson). Bredt, while working at Janssen, along with other scientific founders of Rapport, saw an opportunity to leverage RAPs to target specific neuron circuits. Janssen has provided a range of neuroscience assets, the discovery platform, and intellectual property to help establish the venture in late 2022.

“Over the past decade, our founding team has investigated the potential power of receptor-associated proteins to enable precision targeting of disease-associated neural circuits and has developed a powerful platform to discover therapeutics for that purpose,” said Reid Huber, PhD, Rapport director and partner at Third Rock. “RAPs create multiple opportunities to develop new and better options for patients because they enable us both to introduce precision against validated targets and to access currently undruggable receptor types.”

According to Steven Paul, MD, chairman of the Rapport board and advisory partner at Third Rock, “The need for precision neuromedicines has been clear for decades but finding the right scientific approach to achieve such precision has been a challenge. Rapport’s team has not only identified a powerful approach, they have developed a broad platform that brings this opportunity within reach across multiple neurological disorders.”

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