MedCity News eNewsletter

Two new San Diego biotech startups launched by Avalon-GSK partnership

San Diego firm Avalon Ventures has rolled out two more biotech startups in its unique partnerhip with GlaxoSmithKline, according to a new statement. The new companies, Silarus Therapeutics and Thyritope Biosciences, will each receive $10 million in Series A funding from this Avalon-GSK partnership. Announced more than a year ago, the venture firm and its big […]

San Diego firm Avalon Ventures has rolled out two more biotech startups in its unique partnerhip with GlaxoSmithKlineaccording to a new statement.

The new companies, Silarus Therapeutics and Thyritope Biosciences, will each receive $10 million in Series A funding from this Avalon-GSK partnership.

Announced more than a year ago, the venture firm and its big pharma partner will create and bankroll 10 new San Diego drug companies with $495 million in joint funding. It announced the first, Sitari Pharmaceuticals Inc., with a $10 million Series A financing round last November to develop a treatment for celiac disease.

“The GSK partnership is going quite well. We’ve formed three companies now, and have a couple more in the works,” Avalon managing partner Douglas Downs told me in May. “We expect to fill out our 10 companies by the summer of 2015.”

Avalon said last year it plans to provide up to $30 million in startup funding, or about $3 million per company. And GSK will tack on seed funding of about $6 million to $7 million per company, as well as research and development support and success-based milestone payments for a total of $465 million. GSK has the option to acquire these startups in advance of commercialization.

Silarus will develop a therapy for anemia and iron overload disorders, targeting the erythroferrone hormone that regulates iron supply for red blood cell production. The technology’s based on intellectual property from University of California, Los Angeles investigators Tomas Ganz and Elizabeta Nemeth.

Thyritope will focus on Graves’ Orbitopathy, which causes thyroid-related bulging of the eyes. There’s no approved treatment for this condition, which could lead to orphan treatment by federal regulators. The technology comes out of University of California, Santa Barbara and commercialized by Serimmune.

Both companies will be housed in COI Pharmaceuticals, which is a sort of Avalon-GSK incubator meant to grow its 10 early-stage companies. To support COI, GSK recently opened a new office in San Diego. Avalon managing director Jay Lichter spoke of the new companies in the statement:

By combining the nimble start-up mentality of Avalon with the unmatched R&D expertise and resources of a global pharmaceutical giant like GSK, in less than 18 months we have launched three new companies in diverse therapeutic areas and completed our first compound screen for drug candidate identification in a robust collaboration with GSK. This collaboration has exceeded my expectations in terms of what we’ve been able to accomplish on such a short timescale.”