Dyne starts life with $50M, big biopharma names for muscle disease work

The $50 million will go toward work on myotonic dystrophy type 1, a rare inherited disorder that causes muscle weakness. (Pixabay)

A new Atlas Venture-incubated startup looking to treat patients with rare forms of muscle diseases has got off a $50 million series A with executives out of Amgen, Editas Medicine, Merck and Sarepta Therapeutics at the helm.

Dyne Therapeutics will use the cash toward its FORCE platform of antibody conjugates designed to deliver nucleic acids and other molecules for the treatment of serious muscle diseases.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company tells FierceBiotech that the financing: “Will support our efforts to advance our lead program, DM1, through further preclinical studies and toward the clinic, and to make further progress toward identifying development candidates for additional programs. In addition, we intend to enhance our internal capabilities through key hires and investment in our technology platform.”

Dyne's lead programs are designed to knock down gene expression for the treatment of rare, monogenic neuromuscular diseases. Dyne is also developing therapeutics for patients with cardiac and smooth muscle diseases.

The biotech will initially focus on myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1), a rare inherited disorder that causes muscle weakness and other life-limiting complications. There are currently no disease-modifying treatments for DM1, which affects about 40,000 people in the U.S. alone.

Life science VC Atlas Venture founded, seeded and incubated Dyne, with the series A round joined by Forbion and MPM Capital.

Being so early on, it’s a small operation with 10 staffers, but the biotech told us that it will: “Continue to build our team through key hires across multiple disciplines. We believe that our work will fundamentally change the lives of patients with serious muscle diseases and their families. Our team is made up of passionate individuals from diverse backgrounds who are comfortable challenging the status quo and committed to bringing us closer to this goal, every day.”

Though a small group, they include executives from some big-name companies including CEO Romesh Subramanian, who co-founded RaNA Therapeutics (now Translate Bio) and previously led modality discovery research at Alexion Pharmaceuticals.  

Then there’s Catherine Stehman-Breen, M.D., Dyne’s chief medical officer, who has held senior leadership roles at Amgen and Regeneron, and most recently was chief medical officer of rare disease biotech Sarepta Therapeutics.

Dyne’s senior scientific adviser, Bruce Wentworth, Ph.D., is also a Sarepta alumnus who served as vice president and head of research for Sarepta and led a team whose work contributed to the FDA approval of Exondys 51, a treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

And that’s not all: Mo Qatanani, Ph.D., Dyne’s VP of discovery and translational research, previously led drug discovery research programs at Alexion and Merck.

Last but not least, there’s Jonathan McNeill, M.D., Dyne's VP of business development, who previously supported business and corporate development at CRISPR biotech Editas Medicine.

 “We are launching with a singular goal: to change the lives of patients with DM1 and other serious muscle diseases,” said Subramanian. “Our innovative approach makes this possible, and our commitment to patients and their families makes it necessary. We appreciate the strong support of our investors who share this vision.”