LQT Therapeutics secures $19M to tackle heart diseases with Sanofi compounds

LQT Therapeutics wants to tackle debilitating heart arrhythmias with limited interventions, and investors are planting a seed in the biotech's heart with $19 million. 

The two-year-old Canadian biotech will use the series A, disclosed Tuesday, to bring a lineup of SGK1 inhibitors through phase 1 clinical studies. LQTT has a portfolio of in-licensed compounds from Sanofi that inhibit serum/glucocorticoid-regulated kinase 1, or SGK1. 

That kinase plays a role in inappropriate sodium regulation, a hallmark of arrhythmias, such as Long QT Syndrome. The company's founders have confirmed this role in recent research out of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital, LQTT said. Anthony Rosenzweig, M.D., David Milan, M.D., and Saumya Das, M.D., Ph.D., are the scientific founders.

Current treatments for Long QT syndrome are meant to prevent erratic heartbeats and sudden death. Beta blockers, such as nadolol and propranolol, are the standard therapy and are sometimes combined with heart rhythm drug mexiletine, made under various names by Teva, Lannett, Boehringer Ingelheim and other biopharmas.

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Long QT might be more commonly known from all those drug commercials. The condition, alongside other cardiac conditions, is part of the "not recommended in patients with" list that pharmas are obligated to include. 

Behind Long QT, the biotech's pipeline also includes confirmatory research for cardiac fibrosis, resistant ovarian cancer, resistant breast cancer and Lafora disease. LQTT has also completed preclinical proof of concept for prostate cancer.

The biotech expects to present data at an upcoming scientific conference for its work reproducing the positive effects of SGK1 inhibition in the stem cells of patients with Long QT. LQTT also has data from in vitro models of cell proliferation for prostate cancer. 

In conjunction with the financing, LQTT hired a chief development officer and chief medical officer. Debra Odink, Ph.D., joins as CDO and senior vice president of technical operations after working as CDO at SiteOne Therapeutics, a biotech focused on hypersensitivity of the central nervous system. Philip Sager was named CMO after various roles at Anthera, Gilead and AstraZeneca.

Amplitude Ventures led the round, which included new participants Lumira Ventures, Amzak Health, Alexandria Venture Investments and founding backer Fonds de solidarité FTQ.