Terremoto spells out plan to expand covalent drug alphabet with $75M funding

Terremoto Biosciences will use a $75 million series A funding round to leverage breakthroughs in chemistry to broaden the covalent drug alphabet available to treat complex diseases.

Proceeds from the financing—which was led by OrbiMed and Third Rock Ventures—will be used to advance Terremoto’s lysine-targeted covalency platform as well as todevelop best-in-class therapies against known drug targets and first-in-class medicines against previously undruggable targets.

The company, which announced its launch May 25, is focused on harnessing covalent chemistry to develop small-molecule medicines that are more specific, potent and overall superior for patients with a range of highly complex diseases, including cancer.

“Lysine-targeted covalent chemistry can be thought of as ‘a game of dynamic Tetris,’ due to the level of chemical and biological mastery required to covalently bind to this amino acid in a selective, on-target way,” said Peter Thompson, M.D., co-founder and CEO. “Terremoto is redefining what was once thought of as scientifically impossible with our well-defined platform approach and unrivaled team.”

Thompson, who is also a general partner of OrbiMed, has a string of co-founded biotechs to his name, including Trubion Pharmaceuticals, Corvus Pharmaceuticals and Silverback Therapeutics. He is joined in Terremoto’s leadership by many of the brightest lights in the lysine-targeted covalent chemistry field.

The funding will be used to “continue to build upon the foundational advancements in our lysine-based covalency technology to dramatically expand the universe of drug targets, as well as significantly improve upon existing medicines for the patients who need them most,” Thompson added.

Covalent medicines have traditionally relied on binding to the amino acid cysteine, which is uncommon in proteins, thus limiting the number of potential drug targets, the biotech explained in a May 25 launch announcement. Instead, Terremoto is developing drugs that covalently bind to lysine, an amino acid that is present in nearly every protein of interest.

Reid Huber, Ph.D., board member of Terremoto and partner at Third Rock Ventures, pointed to AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso and AbbVie's and Johnson & Johnson’s Imbruvica as examples of the value of covalent therapeutics to patients. “Terremoto’s lysine-targeted covalency approach builds on these advancements and is poised to broaden the opportunity set where covalent chemistry can be applied, ultimately ushering in a new era in small molecule drug discovery,” Huber said.