- Morphic Therapeutic, a Waltham, MA-based startup, announced Thursday it has secured $51.5 million in Series A financing to develop integrin-blocking therapies.
- Led by GlaxoSmithKline's SR One and Pfizer Venture Investments, the Series A round also included Omega Funds and AbbVie Ventures. The companies will join Leukon Investmnet, Polaris Partners, Schrödinger Inc., and ShangPharma in support of the startup.
- The startup was founded by Harvard-professor and integrin-pioneer Tim Springer to advance preclinincal programs in autoimmunity, fibrosis, vascular disorders and immuno-oncology.
Springer's discovery of integrins in the 1980s spurred development of antibodies treating maladies like inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and leukemia; so it is no surprise that various big pharma companies are now supporting his efforts to develop integrin-blocking therapies, which are thought to be safer.
The next generation of technology seeks to correct the mishaps of the first: some of the antibodies were scrapped due to deadly side effects, such as increased risk of strokes and heart attacks. But Springer's Morphic claims to have found a solution to those problems, Xconomy reports.
Now, with $51.5 million in funding and various notable backers, Morphic Therapeutic is entering a race to develop new integrin-based treatments.
Earlier, in February, California-based Pliant Therapeutics announced it had received $45 million in Series A funding to develop integrin-inhibiting pills to treat fibrotic diseases. Morphic's scope is larger, however, as it seeks to develop integrin antagonists to address fibrosis, immunooncology, autoimmunity and vascular disorders.
Yet some in the scientific community remain skeptical, since Morphic has yet to release their research in peer-reviewed journals, a noted by Xconomy. Despite the risks, integrin antagonists could be a lucrative area, as evidenced by the pedigreed backers for Morphic.