Nimble Therapeutics spins out of Roche with $10M, drug discovery tech

Roche has spun out Nimble Therapeutics, a new biotech that starts life with $10 million in financing and chemical synthesis technology developed at Roche, along with the team that helped create it. First up, Nimble will put that platform to work discovering macrocyclic peptidomimetics—a class of drugs with the advantages of both large and small molecules. 

Peptidomimetics are small, proteinlike chains that mimic peptides, while macrocycles are molecular structures that have at least one ring of 12 or more atoms. This feature gives them the benefits of large molecules—potency and selectivity—as well as those of small molecules, including easy delivery, lower manufacturing costs and low immunogenicity, the immune response some patients have to a drug that may make it less effective. 

Though Madison, Wisconsin-based Nimble has picked out macrocyclic peptidomimetics as its first focus, its platform can synthesize and screen all manner of peptides. The platform can work with millions of molecules in parallel, speeding up discovery and optimization.

"The Roche team saw the value in separating the business to enable it to expand its platform and work on a variety of therapeutic areas with strategic partners," said Deval Lashkari, Ph.D., senior partner at Telegraph Hill Partners, which led Nimble's series A round.

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"As a fully independent company, Nimble Therapeutics will establish strategic partnerships with pharmaceutical companies to jointly develop unique drug candidates more efficiently across many therapeutic areas," Nimble CEO Jigar Patel, Ph.D., said in a statement. Patel, a 12-year veteran of Roche, led the team that developed the technology. 

The platform has already been used in more than 20 collaborations, Nimble said. Moving forward, the company will expand its existing partnerships and court new ones in “key therapeutic areas.” 

Nimble stayed vague on the use of the series A cash, saying in an SEC filing that it will be “used for working capital and other general corporate purposes."