Accelerator's second NYC biotech startup sets out with $17M and some Gates-backed science

Accelerator CEO Thong Le

Accelerator, among the financiers looking to kick-start a fledgling biotech hub in New York City, launched its second local project in the form of Lodo Therapeutics, a company working to turn natural products into novel therapies.

Lodo is getting started with a $17 million A round from Accelerator's New York syndicate--a group that includes Eli Lilly ($LLY), AbbVie ($ABBV) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ)--plus the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which helped sponsor the company's foundational science.

Lodo's efforts stem from the work of Rockefeller University professor and company co-founder Sean Brady, who has spent years refining a method for trawling uncultured soil bacteria for compounds that could treat disease. The Gates Foundation got involved in 2014, funding Brady's work on discovering new antibiotics and treatments for diseases that affect the world's poorest countries.

But the lab's work quickly grew beyond infectious disease, expanding into oncology, metabolic disorders and rare diseases. Accelerator saw promise in Brady's growing platform, CEO Thong Le said, quickly marshaling its resources to put together funds and build a company around what it believes could be a mutlifaceted drug discovery technology.

Lodo isn't disclosing much detail about its pipeline moving at the outset. The company's most advanced assets are in tuberculosis and infectious disease, Le said, and the plan is to move those programs forward while working through discovery-stage development in other areas, but the company declined to provide a timeline for clinical trials.

As with the recently Petra Pharma, Accelerator's first New York startup, Lodo's day-to-day management will fall on Accelerator. If everything goes according to plan, Lodo may someday spin out into an independent biotech of its own, but for now Accelerator prefers to keep its startups under house management, letting scientists focus on development while the firm handles business, Le said.

In the meantime, Lodo will set up shop in at the Alexandria ($ARE) Center for Life Science, a roughly 700,000-square-foot mix of lab and office space in New York that is already home to R&D teams from Lilly, Roche ($RHHBY), Pfizer ($PFE) and others.

Alexandria's venture capital arm is a member of the Accelerator syndicate funding Lodo's launch, a group rounded out by Arch Venture Partners, Pfizer Venture Investments, Harris & Harris Group, Innovate NY Fund, the Partnership Fund for New York City, Watson Fund and WuXi PharmaTech.

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