Syntimmune gains Boehringer, Pfizer vet as new CEO, bags $8M

New York vista

New York-based biotech Syntimmune has gained biopharma and VC veteran David de Graaf as its new president and CEO as the company gains the final $8 million from its Series A.  

Alongside de Graaf, Burt Adelman, formerly of Dyax Corp. and Biogen, has been elected to the company’s board, as well as its senior advisor.

David de Graaf is certainly no stranger to life sciences, having worked as a venture partner at Apple Tree Partners; the executive chairman and CEO at Selventa; VP of biotherapeutics and integrative biology at Boehringer; as well as holding former leadership positions at Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

As well as new heads, the biotech also announced that the final $8 million tranche of its $26 million Series A financing was triggered through dose selection for its follow-on Phase Ib/IIa studies.

Syntimmune, which launched only a couple of years ago, is seeking to develop new treatments for IgG-mediated autoimmune diseases via its first-in-class lead candidate SYNT001.

The biotech said in a statement that it “anticipates commencing multiple Phase Ib/IIa studies in different indications during the first half of 2017.”

Its Series A has been co-led by Apple Tree Partners and Baxalta Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Baxalta (now merged into Shire), with participation by the Partners Innovation Fund and additional investors.

Laurence Blumberg, founder, COO of Syntimmune and who had been running the co, said: “We are very excited to attract leaders such as Dr. David de Graaf and Dr. Burt Adelman to help the company advance to the next stage of development.”

Dr de Graaf added: “Syntimmune represents what I believe to be the best of innovation in the life sciences. The team led by Dr. Laurence Blumberg, business founder and COO, has clinically translated compelling science from the laboratory of Dr. Richard Blumberg, scientific founder of Syntimmune and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“At each stage, the company has reached clear value inflection points, and I am thrilled to be a part of this team in growing Syntimmune and continuing this impressive record of accomplishment.”

The biotech has two additional, earlier-stage therapeutic programs targeting other aspects of FcRn biology.

FcRn is a central mediator of IgG-related immunity and part of an important pathway that enables abnormal IgG responses in a large number of clinical settings, including autoimmune disease.

There are currently no commercially available therapies designed to block IgG-FcRn interactions, which underlie diseases that affect multiple organ systems and for which there are continuing substantial medical needs, such as inflammatory bowel disease, lupus erythematosus, dermatomyositis and others.