ARCH launches Vividion Therapeutics with $50M, ex Celgene exec

Former Celgene research exec Tom Daniel becomes chair as a full-time CEO is sought

ARCH Ventures, Versant and Cardinal Partners have come together in a $50 million Series A raise and launch for upstart Vividion.

The San Diego, CA-based biotech, which will be chaired by former president of global research and early development at Celgene Tom Daniel in an executive role, says it is focusing on treating “major unmet clinical needs using the first platform for proteome-wide ligand and target discovery.”

Daniel will help run things from the start, but the search is on for a permanent CEO, the biotech tells me.

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Its platform was spun out of the labs of Vividion’s scientific founders, a team of experts in chemical biology and synthetic chemistry from The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA, which includes Benjamin Cravatt, Phil Baran, and Jin-Quan Yu.

Its platform “expands the definition of druggability,” Daniel explains, on mechanisms in serious illnesses, while “delivering new routes to address highly validated disease targets.”

The biotech was founded back in 2014 but has been in stealth mode in the intervening years, with double digit staffers that Daniel expects “to grow aggressively” in both biology and chemistry.

What have they been doing with their stealth time? Daniel said: “It became clear around the time of founding that the platforms emerging from the Cravatt lab had tremendous potential for expanding druggability of the human proteome. Between 2014 and present, these platforms were further optimized, refined, and applied in several important biological systems, bolstering confidence in their transformative potential to discover progressable chemical leads for compelling, but previously intractable targets.”

He said that during this period: “We also integrated the platforms with disruptive chemistry methods developed by co-founders Phil Baran and Jin-Quan Yu, which has provided unprecedented access to new chemical space of provocative structural and functional content, thus endowing Vividion with an integrated and highly differentiated approach to efficiently discover and progress drug candidates for compelling protein targets.”

It starts of course as preclinical and the biotech is not giving up timelines just yet on when they expect to be in the clinic.   

In terms of targets, Daniel said: “We have several targets of interest in diseases ranging from oncology to immunology to rare genetic disorders. While we are not disclosing these yet, they meet the following criteria: proteins with compelling human biology validation, and proteins that have proven heretofore difficult to drug by conventional means.

“In a nutshell, we believe that any protein has the potential to be drugged with the Vividion platform and therefore are using a rigorous human biology filter for target selection and prioritization.”

And the name? “Our platform is that we assess drugs and targets directly in native or ‘living’ biological systems–hence, the origins of ‘Vivid. And our platform also has a strong mass spectrometry component–hence, the origins of ‘ion’.” 

And when you say its name, it’s pronounced “vivid-eon.”

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