Startups, BioPharma

Synthorx receives $10M to pivot toward treatments

The money will be used to develop products by leveraging its synthetic amino acid platform as well as to hire chief business and scientific officers.

biotech investing JP Morgan 2016

Synthorx, a synthetic biology company based in San Diego, has received $10 million in series B financing.

The company will use the money to ramp up efforts to develop advanced protein therapeutics based on its synthetic amino acid platform. RA Capital Management led the round, which included early investors Avalon Ventures and Correlation Ventures.

The influx of capital will fund a significant evolution at Synthorx, which has been focused on validating their synthetic biology technology. The additional resources will allow them to begin developing treatments, pivoting from a platform company to a drug discovery company.

“The $10 million investment from RA Capital is really to go after products,” said Synthorx president and CEO Court Turner. “It will help us advance more than one program to late pre-clinical stage IND-enabling studies.”

In addition to developing an internal pipeline, the company will use the funding to hire a chief scientific officer and a chief business officer.

Built on discoveries made at The Scripps Research Institute, Synthorx is leveraging a synthetic DNA base pair – named d5SICSTP and dNaMTP – which can be engineered into bacteria to produce proteins with novel amino acids. They hope this expanded genomic vocabulary will ease some of the protein design limitations posed by the 20 natural amino acids. In addition, the company believes their platform can be dramatically scaled up.

“The ability to incorporate synthetic or non-natural amino acids into proteins is not new,” said Andrew Levin, managing director of RA Capital Management, who will join the Synthorx board of directors, in a prepared statement. “What we believe is new and truly groundbreaking about Synthorx’s technology is the ability to efficiently produce a variety of proteins containing multiple synthetic amino acids at the necessary scale and cost of goods for drug discovery and development.”

Synthetic amino acids can be incorporated into peptides or larger proteins and could extend the half-life and/or increase the potency of biologics for a variety of conditions. In particular, the technology could help address the body’s ability to rapidly degrade protein drugs. Therapies that require daily injection might be extended to weekly or even bi-weekly doses. This approach offers a wide range of possible applications.

“Clearly, this can be applied to monoclonal antibodies, antibody drug conjugates and so on,” Turner said. “We’ve already started an internal non-opioid pain program, and we have a long list of metabolic disease targets that we’ll be interrogating once we start hiring the rest of the team.”

Turner believes Synthorx will ultimately compete with more traditional biologics companies, offering therapies that are more potent, longer-lasting or both. But before that happens, the company has to still must prove its platform is able to provide these novel therapies.

“We need to show that we can produce that interesting molecule that’s safe and potent, and we can produce it at scale.” he said.

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