Third Rock pushes Rhythm venture round to $40M

Third Rock is jumping on board the venture bandwagon backing the Boston-based start-up Rhythm, pushing its Series A to $40 million to fuel new trial work on peptide therapeutics. MPM Capital and New Enterprise put together the initial $21 million venture round for Rhythm in the spring.

Bart Henderson, president of Rhythm, says the expanded round gives Rhythm enough cash to get its two lead drugs--which were in-licensed from France's Ipsen--to clinical proof of concept. Rhythm is developing RM-131, a small-peptide ghrelin agonist, for the treatment of gastrointestinal functional disorders, and RM-493, a small-peptide melanocortin 4 receptor agonist, for obesity and diabetes.

"Rhythm has broad and compelling data for both the ghrelin and MC4R programs," said Dr. Lou Tartaglia, a partner at Third Rock who is joining the board at Rhythm to help shepherd the work. Third Rock and Tartaglia are betting that the Rhythm team can score some even more compelling PoC data that their therapeutics can achieve high selectivity for metabolic pathways, a route to controlling GI disorders and the obesity epidemic that has gripped the U.S.

Henderson returned Tartaglia's compliment, saying "Lou has deep expertise in obesity and metabolic diseases, including the molecular mechanisms of body weight regulation, which underpin our clinical development programs."

- check out the Rhythm release