Pliant Therapeutics closes $62M round, eyeing fibrotic disease work

San Francisco (Pixabay)
Pliant, a Redwood City, California-based biotech, is aiming to help prevent fibrosis diseases (Freddie Collins on Unsplash)

California startup Pliant Therapeutics has raised a healthy $62 million series B to help fund its proof of concept tests across a range of scarring diseases.

Specifically, the money will be used toward studies in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), which causes scarring in the lungs and can be fatal, and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a rare disorder of the bile ducts that can lead to liver failure, as well as ongoing drug discovery programs targeting other fibrotic diseases.

The early-stage Third Rock biotech started life back in 2016 with a $45 million series A and CEO in the form of Bernard Coulie, M.D., Ph.D, who spent more than six years in leadership positions at Johnson & Johnson and most recently was co-founder and CEO of ActoGeniX.

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In preclinical studies, the company’s lead molecule has shown it can modulate fibrotic tissue-specific integrins, which selectively block activation of TGF-β, preventing, and possibly reversing, the growth of fibrotic tissue within the lung and liver.

All very early work, of course, and Pliant says it plans to obtain proof of concept in patients for its lead molecule next year. Its ultimate goal is to prevent or even reverse fibrosis, as well as build out a patient registry for certain areas of fibrotic disease to “both increase understanding of natural disease progression, and fuel biomarker discovery.”

The latest financing was led by Cowen Healthcare Investments, with new investors including Eventide Asset Management, Schroder Adveq, Menlo Ventures, SCubed Capital, Agent Capital and undisclosed institutional investors.

Coulie said: “We appreciate the vote of confidence of our respected biotech investors who join us in the pursuit of new medicines for patients with debilitating and deadly fibrotic diseases. Our series B financing will support the early development of our lead product candidate in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis, as well as our aggressive strategy to build our pipeline of proprietary product candidates and attract partnering opportunities.”