Chris Garabedian’s accelerator has spawned its first biotech. The startup, Landos Biopharma, has secured the support of the ex-Sarepta CEO’s Xontogeny and $10 million from Perceptive Advisors to take a LANCL2-targeted treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) into the clinic.
The launch of Landos follows the playbook Garabedian sketched out when he secured $15 million from Perceptive earlier this year to set up Xontogeny. Garabedian created the accelerator to help scientists with an idea but without the means to realize it to get the clinical proof-of-concept data they need to unlock further financing and dealmaking opportunities. Xontogeny’s role is to guide founders through these early stages, not give them the money to do so.
In the case of Landos, Xontogeny is helping founder and CEO Josep Bassaganya-Riera, Ph.D., turn his research into LANCL2—lanthionine synthetase c-like protein 2—into a clinical-phase candidate.
Bassaganya-Riera outlined the potential for the pathway to modulate immune and inflammatory responses in a 2014 paper, before going on to discover a drug that selectively binds to the target. In mouse models of IBD, the drug—BT-11—lowered the disease activity index, drove a fourfold drop in colonic inflammatory lesions and suppressed inflammatory markers.
The data were compelling enough to prompt Bassaganya-Riera to advance into IND-enabling tests. Garabedian and the team of biotech veterans he is putting together at Xontogeny will support this work. Boosted by this support, Landos plans to file an IND next year and wrap up a phase 1 trial in 2019.
Perceptive is bankrolling this work. The hedge fund, which was a major investor in Sarepta, typically backs small to mid-cap biotechs that are on public markets or on the cusp of an IPO. But having worked closely with Garabedian during his time at Sarepta, Perceptive CEO Joseph Edelman is now reaching back earlier into the development process in collaboration with Xontogeny.
The characteristics of Landos are indicative of what Perceptive is looking for in these earlier-stage biotechs.
“We believe that Landos exemplifies the company profile we aim to support: An outstanding leadership team, a lead product with a novel mechanism, strong IP and a compelling preclinical and translational dataset that is close to the clinic for the treatment of an important disease with an unmet need for safer and more effective drugs,” Edelman said in a statement.
Landos, which is based off the biotech beaten track in Blacksburg, Virginia, is also working on a clutch of earlier-stage programs against diseases including Type 1 and 2 diabetes. Bassaganya-Riera’s work on LANCL2 suggests the pathway may have insulin-sensitizing effects.