Dana-Farber backed Neomorph hunts ‘undruggable’ proteins with new round of investor cash for hires, development – Endpoints News


Big in­vest­ments in pro­tein degra­da­tion, the process of un­lock­ing pre­vi­ous­ly “un­drug­gable” bind­ing sites for nov­el ther­a­peu­tics, are noth­ing new with some of phar­ma’s biggest play­ers al­ready dab­bling in the field. But a new biotech backed by the Dana-Far­ber Can­cer In­sti­tute be­lieves its “mol­e­c­u­lar glue” plat­form could help it stand out — and it’s got the fund­ing to test its hy­poth­e­sis.

Neo­morph, a biotech spe­cial­iz­ing in the buzzy field of pro­tein degra­da­tion, has snared a $105 mil­lion Se­ries A fi­nanc­ing round to scale up its R&D team and hunt for new med­i­cines in a range of ther­a­peu­tic ar­eas, par­tic­u­lar­ly on­col­o­gy, the com­pa­ny said Tues­day.

A Deer­field Man­age­ment Com­pa­ny start­up that launched in ear­ly 2020, Neo­morph has ze­roed in on “mol­e­c­u­lar glue” de­graders, mol­e­cules that cause pro­teins to in­ter­act in ways not nor­mal­ly seen, as a po­ten­tial shot at “un­drug­gable” pro­teins that lack suit­able bind­ing pock­ets for ag­o­nist/in­hibitor use and may have an ef­fect on a range of dis­eases. The com­pa­ny’s sci­en­tif­ic brain trust, most no­tably Cel­gene vet­er­an and CSO Phil Cham­ber­lain, are ex­perts in the “mol­e­c­u­lar glue” field, Neo­morph said.

The biotech plans to use its ear­ly-stage round to help ex­pand its R&D team as well as build its dis­cov­ery plat­form and ad­vance lead can­di­dates, Neo­morph said. The rest of the com­pa­ny’s found­ing team in­cludes Er­ic Fis­ch­er, Ben­jamin Ebert and Scott Arm­strong.

Neo­morph will lean on a “close” col­lab­o­ra­tion with Dana-Far­ber’s Cen­ter for Pro­tein Degra­da­tion, in­clud­ing kick-start­ing the com­pa­ny with three Dana-Far­ber vets: Fis­ch­er, Ebert and Arm­strong.

“I am hum­bled to be a part of a team poised to make re­al strides in ad­vanc­ing the sci­ence,” said Fis­ch­er, a Dana-Far­ber in­ves­ti­ga­tor and as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at Har­vard Med­ical School, in a re­lease. “We be­lieve we are in an ex­cel­lent po­si­tion to take our tech­nol­o­gy to the next lev­el with the ul­ti­mate goal of de­liv­er­ing trans­for­ma­tive treat­ments to pa­tients in need.”

Neo­morph will en­ter an emer­gent pro­tein degra­da­tion field with a suite of Big Phar­ma back­ers al­ready on board — all in pur­suit of nov­el path­ways to tar­get pro­tein bind­ing sites that have big im­pli­ca­tions for a raft of ther­a­peu­tic ar­eas.

Ear­li­er this month, phar­ma gi­ant Ab­b­Vie placed a $55 mil­lion up­front bet on Fron­tier Med­i­cines to de­vel­op drug can­di­dates tar­get­ing E3 lig­as­es — a key mem­ber of the body’s nat­ur­al degra­da­tion sys­tem. Fron­tier will al­so be scout­ing small mol­e­cule binders to tar­get, Ab­b­Vie said.

Mean­while, Sanofi, Roche, Bay­er, Gilead and Ver­tex have all inked their own pro­tein degra­da­tion pacts in the re­cent past, sig­nal­ing a full-out on­slaught at the field. But there have been cracks in those plans: Just last month, Roche hand­ed back the rights to an EGFR tar­get­ing pro­tein degra­da­tion pro­gram to C4 Ther­a­peu­tics, which it has part­nered with since 2016. That move came af­ter Roche sig­nif­i­cant­ly scaled back the pro­gram in 2018, lim­it­ing its in­ter­est to six po­ten­tial pro­grams.

So­cial: Dana-Far­ber Can­cer In­sti­tute via web­site


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