Startups, BioPharma

True North Therapeutics gets $40M new approach to autoimmune disease

Since 2014, True North Therapeutics has raised $97 million for its unique approach to autoimmune disease. Its initial clinical work treats a rare anemia.

Bay Area biotech True North Therapeutics just closed out a $40 million Series C for an exciting new approach to autoimmune disease – potentially shutting down the body’s ability to attack itself at the very beginning of the process. It’s raised a hefty amount of funding in the past year and change to do so.

This round, and the company’s initial focus, is meant to advance clinical development of a drug that’ll treat Cold Agglutinin Disease and related orphan disorders. This is right on the heels of a $35 million Series B round this past April, and a $22 million A round just last year.

Cold Agglutinin Disease is a form of autoimmune anemia that leads to self-destruction of red blood cells. Along with anemia, it leas to fatigue and potentially fatal thrombosis. Its incidence is about 1 in 300,000. True North kicked off a Phase 1a clinical study earlier this year of its lead drug, TNT009, and plans to begin a Phase 1b later this month.

True North is developing antibody drugs that work by inhibiting the complement system to prevent the generation of inflammatory mediators and phagocytic markers. The idea here is to restore immune function so that it doesn’t turn on itself – which is why the approach could be used more broadly with other disorders, the company contends. It says it’s the first company to inhibit this particular immune mechanism – the complement system.

The drug is meant to serve as an alternative to steroids and anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody approaches. TNT009 inhibits C1s, a serine protease within the C1-complex in the complement system. This C1-complex is activated by immune complexes, True North says, and triggers a powerful enzymatic cascade. If this pathway is improperly activated, autoimmune diseases emerge.

Investors in the current round include New Leaf Venture Partners, Perspective Advisors and Cowen Private Investments, as well as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, MPM Capital, OrbiMed, SR One, and Baxalta Ventures.