Crinetics raises $63.5M for oral acromegaly therapy

Dollar bills falling
The G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) specialist said the new funds will fund additional studies of CRN008—the first of its candidates to break out of preclinical development. (Pixabay)

San Diego biotech Crinetics has raised $63.5 million in new funding to help take its oral alternative to injected drugs for acromegaly through a proof-of-concept trial.

The Series B comes two years after Crinetics raised $40 million in first-round funding and five months after the company started a phase 1 trial of CRN00808, a nonpeptide somatostatin agonist that could provide a more patient-friendly alternative to existing drugs like Novartis’ Signifor (pasireotide) and Pfizer’s Somavert (pegvisomant).

The G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) specialist said the new financing will fund additional studies of CRN008—the first of its candidates to break out of preclinical development—as well as allow it to develop “additional new targeted therapeutics for endocrine disorders and endocrine related cancers.”

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Acromegaly is a rare condition in which the body produces too much growth hormone, often because of a pituitary tumor, which causes body tissues and bones to grow more quickly and can lead to serious complications including hypertension, diabetes, and kidney and heart failure.

Surgery to remove the tumor is generally the first-line treatment option, but doesn’t always work. And while these non-responders can often be treated with injectables, they face lifelong injections and many face breakthrough symptoms as these drugs wear off between shots.

This fundraising puts us on a strong financial footing that allows us to further the development of CRN00808 and advance our pipeline of additional internally-discovered drug programs,” commented Crinetics’ founder and CEO Scott Struthers, Ph.D.

The phase 1 trial of the drug in healthy volunteers is due to complete in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, along with the acromegaly project the biotech also has preclinical programs in neuroendocrine tumors, hyperinsulinism and Cushing’s disease.

Crinetics isn’t the only company working on an oral alternative to injectables for acromegaly. Chiasma has a capsule formulation of octreotide that was rejected by the FDA in 2016 but is in a new phase 3 trial to support re-submission, with data due toward the end of 2019.

Perceptive Advisors led the new round, with new investors RA Capital and OrbiMed coming on board along with existing backers 5AM Ventures, Versant Ventures and Vivo Capital.