3D Rendering of Antibody Drug Conjugate Molecules
Credit: Marcin Klapczynski / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Precision medicine startup Solu Therapeutics has burst out of the shadows and announced the closing of an oversubscribed $31 million seed financing to support its proprietary CyTaC (Cytotoxicity Targeting Chimera) platform and drug candidates in-licensed from GSK. The startup says they will apply the platform to oncology, immunology, and autoimmune programs.

“Antibody therapeutics have had tremendous success across multiple disease areas, however, there is still tremendous untapped potential,” said Christoph Westphal, Founding Executive Chairman, Solu Therapeutics, and Founding Partner, Longwood Fund. “We believe that the novel technology and world-class team recruited to build out Solu Therapeutics will unlock this potential to create a new generation of precision medicines.”

The financing was co-led by Longwood Fund and Santé Ventures, with additional participation from DCVC Bio, Astellas Venture Management, and Alexandria Venture Investments. In return for the license, GSK received equity in Solu and will receive milestones and royalties on products derived from the CyTaC platform.

The company’s novel platform is designed to unlock antibody-intractable cell surface targets. According to the press release, they aim to develop, “next generation medicines that harness the power of biologics with the vast target binding space of small molecules.”

“We are using the CyTaC platform to develop bifunctional small molecules with one arm binding the extracellular target and the other arm binding a proprietary antibody that can recruit the immune system to kill cancer and other pathogenic cells,” said David Donabedian, co-founder and CEO of Solu. Donabedian’s background includes founding and early CEO posts at Axial Therapeutics, ImmuneID, and DEM BioPharma.

Donabedian added that, “The innovative platform and drug candidates were licensed from GSK and have potential applications across multiple therapeutic areas, including oncology, immunology, and autoimmunity. With the capital from this financing, we plan to advance our lead program in oncology into the clinic within two years and advance several of our other product candidates through preclinical development.”

Solu Therapeutics’ lists the unique characteristics of CyTaC as:  unlocking new tumor-associated antigens to eliminate cancer cells, depleting pathogenic immune cells, and extending the half-life of small molecule antagonists and agonists.

As part of the financing, the following have joined Solu’s board of directors: Westphal; Omar Khalil, Partner, Santé Ventures; John Hamer, PhD, managing director, DCVC Bio; Satoshi Konagai, Astellas Venture Management; and Peter Hutt.

Other companies founded by Longwood Fund, or its principals include Acceleron, Momenta, Alnylam, Vertex, Sirtris, Vor, TScan, Pyxis Oncology, Immunitas, Be Biopharma, Tome Biosciences, Photys, Carbon Biosciences, and DEM BioPharma.

“I believe the CyTaC platform opens a vast array of opportunities by combining the pharmacology and efficacy of antibodies with the binding capacity and dose control of small molecules,” said Khalil. “We’re excited to partner with the Solu team as they develop new medicines for patients who otherwise have limited therapeutic options.”

Also of Interest