Ubiquitin activating enzyme protein E1
Credit: PASIEKA/Getty Images

Preclinical biotech company Entact Bio announced today that it has raised $81 million in a Series A funding round led by by Qiming Venture Partners USA and venBio Partners to further develop Encompass, its proprietary therapeutics development platform for a novel class of therapeutics called enhancement-targeting chimeric (ENTAC) molecules. The Series A financing follows an initial seed investment from 4BIO Capital and Arkin Bio Ventures which supported and incubated the company.

According to company, ENTAC molecules have potential across range of disease types and seeks to treat diseases where there has been disruption of beneficial proteins within cells. It’s often not possible to target these types of health conditions with small molecule therapeutics which are usually designed to inhibit the proteins that cause disease. ENTACs, instead, seek to treat diseases by enhancing the function of beneficial proteins.

“Since our initial seed investment, we have been blown away by the potential of ENTACs to radically change therapeutic development,” said Owen Smith a partner at 4BIO Capital and a board member of Entact. “Until now, the focus has been on dampening down faulty proteins rather than dialing up beneficial ones and Entact’s approach therefore allows us to target indications we were never able to before.”

The scientific founders of the company have significant experience in the study of enzymes called deubiquitinases—or DUBs—which help regulate proteins within cells. The ENTACs help bring together DUBs with the targeted proteins to remove chains of ubiquitin that are attached to the target. Due to ubiquitin’s role in protein function, its tailored removal can help enhance functioning of the targeted protein. The team at Entact is engineering ENTACs to recruit specific DUBs that can increase the levels, location, or activity of targeted proteins and restore cellular health.

“Our aim is to provide new options for patients by developing precision medicines that enhance the function of beneficial proteins rather than eliminating or blocking proteins that contribute to disease,” said Victoria Richon, CEO of Entact. “To transform this vision into reality, we have built Encompass, a proprietary platform for creating therapeutics that harness the cell’s mechanism for enhancing protein function. These ENTAC medicines will make an important difference for patients whose needs aren’t adequately met by today’s treatments.”

Richon joined Entact in July of this year, and has more than 20 years of experience in the industry in drug development. Most recently, she served as both CEO and CSO at clinical stage cancer-focused biopharma Ribon Therapeutics, and also counts stints at Sanofi, Epizyme, and Merck on her CV.

Entact founders bring together expertise in the varied areas collectively required to design ENTACs and include:

  • Sara Buhrlage, PhD, Associate Professor, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School
  • Michael Clague, PhD, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, University of Liverpool
  • David Komander, PhD, Head of the Ubiquitin Signalling Division, WEHI
  • Jarrod Marto, PhD, Associate Professor, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School
  • Ueli Nachbur, PhD, Scientist Entrepreneur, WEHI
  • David Sheppard, PhD, Director, Sheppard R&D Consultancy Ltd.
  • Sylvie Urbé, PhD, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, University of Liverpool
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