Disc Medicine nabs cash, big backers and biopharma drug deal

Not a bad day’s work for Atlas-seeded startup Disc Medicine: It’s managed a healthy $50 million series A, led by Novo Nordisk’s VC arm, gained a new executive chair from Nimbus and nabbed a deal with AbbVie.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech’s pipeline is focused on the hepcidin pathway, aimed at finding and working out new therapies against ineffective red blood cell production.

To this end, it has the $50 million, led by Novo Holdings A/S along with Access Biotechnology and with founding investor Atlas Venture pitching in as well as Donald Nicholson, former CEO of Nimbus Therapeutics, also joining as the company’s executive chairman.

That’s not all: It’s also penned an exclusive agreement with biopharma AbbVie for a series of hemojuvelin antagonist monoclonal antibodies designed to help improve anemia.

“We have accumulated a wealth of experience and new insights into hepcidin biology and its role in hematologic diseases,” said Brian MacDonald, founder and interim CEO of Disc Medicine. “We are harnessing these insights to develop first-in-class therapies targeting the hepcidin pathway to address a wide range of anemias.”

Disc Medicine has two early-stage programs focused on regulating hepcidin expression: a new, oral matriptase-2 inhibitor that increases hepcidin expression to treat iron loading anemias and the AbbVie asset aimed at reducing hepcidin expression and addressing anemia in “a range of chronic inflammatory and hematologic diseases.”

“Disc Medicine is poised to transform the treatment of these hematologic diseases with its novel approach to targeting hepcidin biology,” added Kevin Bitterman, founding investor at Atlas Venture.

“Over the past fifty years, the treatment of anemia has relied largely on blood transfusions which can be burdensome and even impair patient outcomes. Further, options are limited for patients who do not receive transfusions. With the launch of Disc Medicine, we seek to change the treatment paradigm with a new way to address the ineffective erythropoiesis that is associated with these diseases.”