Takeda, ex-Allergan CEO lead $13M Series A to get into clinic with NIH


Bioniz Therapeutics is slated to start a Phase I trial for one of its cytokine inhibitors in partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Now, it’s nabbed a $13 million cash infusion in a Series A financing to advance that and other work.

The round was co-led by Takeda Ventures and Dr. David Pyott, who was previously chairman and CEO of Allergan. Cota Capital and Joe Kiani, the chairman and CEO of patient monitoring company Masimo ($MASI), also participated.

"Bioniz is an exciting, emerging biotechnology company with a truly novel approach to addressing autoimmune diseases and cancer,” said Pyott in a statement. “I look forward to working with the company and its leadership, and together, realize our vision to create the next generation of selective immune therapies." He was CEO of Allergan from 1998 through 2015.

The Irvine, CA-based startup aims to discover and develop first-in-class peptide therapeutics that inhibit multiple cytokines, both selectively and simultaneously. Its lead programs are BNZ-1 and BNZ-2.

The idea is to selectively inhibit functionally redundant cytokines while leaving the rest of the cytokine network untouched to treat immuno-inflammatory diseases and cancer.

BNZ-1, a selective inhibitor of cytokines IL2/IL9/IL15 that is slated to treat HTLV-1-associated myelopathy and for certain T-cell leukemias, is lined up for the clinical trial with NIH. BNZ-2 is a preclinical selective inhibitor of cytokines IL15/IL21 that’s intended to treat celiac disease and other immuno-inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract.

"The acceptance of the BNZ-1 IND is a great accomplishment by our team and we are excited to collaborate with the NIH on the clinical advancement of this program," said Bioniz founder, President and CEO Dr. Nazli Azimi.

As part of the financing, Ilan Zipkin, senior investment director of Takeda Ventures, and Masimo’s Kiani have joined the company’s board.

- here is the release

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