Amgen-backed Seismic shakes up $121M financing for preclinical immunology programs

Seismic Therapeutic has secured a series B of significant magnitude, with $121 million pitched in by new investor Amgen Ventures in a round aimed at pushing two immunology programs into the clinic.

The series B was led by new investor Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from Amgen Ventures and Codon Capital, Alexandria Venture Investments, Gaingels and GC&H. Existing investors Timothy A. Springer, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Polaris Partners, Boxer Capital, GV, Samsara BioCapital, and unnamed management members and founders also joined in.

The funding round follows a $101 million series A round in 2022, bringing Seismic’s total capital raised to $222 million.

“When we launched Seismic at the end of 2021, we had a bold idea of applying machine learning to biologics drug discovery for immunology,” Jo Viney, Ph.D., CEO of Seismic, told Fierce Biotech via email. “At the time, we were a pioneer because most drug developers were applying machine learning to small molecules and target discovery. Our approach is to use machine learning to optimize the therapeutic properties of novel biologics for autoimmune diseases.”

Seismic was launched by the founders of Pandion Therapeutics—including Viney—after its $1.9 billion acquisition by Merck in 2021. The company started exploring machine learning in pan‑immunoglobulin (Ig) G protease sculpting (Sc) enzymes, which gave way to Seismic’s S-1117 program, and dual-cell bidirectional antibodies, which resulted in the company’s S-4321 program, according to Viney.

The new money will be funneled toward advancing those two programs—both currently in preclinical development—through IND-enabling studies and phase 1 trials. Though Seismic hasn’t revealed specific indications for either program, CEO Viney shared insight on the therapeutic potential for each.  

Seismic’s Ig sculpting enzymes are designed to reduce or eliminate pathogenic antibodies that cause a range of autoimmune diseases such as myasthenia gravis, and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, Viney said.

Meanwhile, S-4321 is made to simultaneously engage inhibitory receptors on T cells and antigen presenting cells to tackle the multiple cell types driving autoimmune disease processes.

“We are binding to PD-1 as well as another inhibitory receptor—Fc gamma RIIb,” Viney explained. “So, we are addressing two different pathways with two cell types with a single molecule.”

The therapeutic potential lies in major autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, the CEO said. In theory, tackling two pathways should offer more opportunity than just going after one, like Eli Lilly is with its mid-stage PD-1 agonist peresolimab for rheumatoid arthritis.

The series B will also be used to build out Seismic’s pipeline and expand its machine learning-enabled IMPACT platform by adding more methods to enhance biologics drug discovery.

The Massachusetts-based biotech has evolved since its launch a few years ago, expanding from a 14-person staff to 47 employees, and still growing, according to Viney, who said the company is actively recruiting.