Roche-partnered Scenic Biotech snags $31M to study 3 rare disease drugs

Roche-partnered Scenic Biotech has scored a $31 million series A financing round and plans to take three drugs into the clinic with a focus on rare genetic diseases. 

All three programs target genetic modifiers, and the first drug is a small molecule that aims to treat Niemann-Pick disease type C, or NP-C, which impacts the way fats, lipids and cholesterol move throughout the body's cells. 

The Dutch biotech's second program will go after Barth syndrome, which is an inherited mitochondrial disorder that can lead to an enlarged heart, muscle weakness, fatigue and low blood cell count. The disorder was discovered by a pediatric neurologist of the same name in Scenic's home country. 

The third program will focus on a severe metabolic syndrome, Scenic said in its Thursday funding disclosure. 

Scenic aims to expand its industry collaborations, double its workforce in the next 18 months and relocate to a larger facility in Amsterdam, the biotech said.

Roche's Genentech is already a Scenic partner through a multiyear, multi-indication collaboration in which Scenic will use its cell sequencing platform and data to identify drug targets. Genentech will then select targets to develop. The pair entered the original agreement in September 2020 in a deal that could balloon beyond $375 million, and the parties upped the ante in May 2021 but did not disclose terms. 

The biotech is led by former banker Oscar Izeboud, Ph.D., who was director of business development at Crucell from 2004 to 2006 before it was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2011. 

Eir Ventures, BioMedPartners, Vesalius Biocapital, Inkef Capital, BioGeneration Ventures and Oxford Science Enterprises invested in Scenic, which spun out of the Netherlands Cancer Institute and the University of Oxford in 2017.