GlaxoSmithKline has helped Sitryx to a $30 million (€26 million) funding round. Newly formed British biotech Sitryx will use the money and its relationship with GSK to move immunometabolism assets toward human testing.
Sitryx is built upon research into the role metabolic pathways play in the function of immune cells and, by extension, the development of cancers and autoimmune diseases. By designing drugs that act on these pathways, Sitryx and its transatlantic syndicate of founding scientists think they can correct immune cell function and stop tumor growth.
GSK became aware of the research through an initiative that connects it to immunology academics. Seeing the potential, GSK’s drug discovery and chemistry teams are working with Sitryx and sharing technologies and chemical matter with the startup.
The Big Pharma is one of a clutch of well-known investors that helped get Sitryx off the ground. SV Health Investors, which provided initial seed funding, co-led the round with Sofinnova Partners. GSK and Longwood Fund chipped in cash too, giving Sitryx the means to advance one of its portfolio of oncology and immuno-inflammatory drugs to the cusp of the clinic.
“The funding round was sized to allow us to achieve one IND/CTA approval and, if projects progress as we anticipate, to initiate IND-enabling preclinical studies for a second program,” Sitryx CEO Neil Weir said.
Weir served as SVP of UCB Pharma until recently. The CEO joined a company that has already built up a portfolio of early-stage small molecules, proteolysis-targeting chimeras and topical formulations aimed at oncology and immuno-inflammatory indications.
The breadth of the portfolio factored into Weir’s decision to join Sitryx.
“Sitryx presented an opportunity for me to build on my pharmaceutical experiences, to lead an organization and work with an excellent set of founding scientists,” Weir said. “Having the confidence that sufficient funding would be generated to give a real opportunity to discover novel medicines was also important. And this is not a one-shot company, we have a portfolio of opportunities to develop here so I’m very excited about the company’s potential.”