Vividion Therapeutics, a company looking to increase the number of proteins that small molecules can target, has raised $82 million in its series B financing, which will bring at least one of three programs through clinical proof of concept. The capital will also allow the company to broaden its early-stage work identifying new therapies for “previously intractable drug targets.”
“Even though biology has evolved over the past 10 years and has made tremendous improvements, particularly with human genetics, small molecules seemed to stay behind,” Vividion CEO Diego Miralles told FierceBiotech. Small molecules can target only a minuscule proportion of the human proteome—the entire set of proteins that can be expressed by the human genome. Miralles puts that figure around 5%.
The company is trying to raise that ceiling and make it possible to create medicines for targets that are well known by the scientific community, but have been impossible to drug, Miralles said.
Vividion spun out of The Scripps Research Institute back in 2017, with no lead target, compound or program, just a “revolutionary technological idea,” Miralles said. Its platform is based on the work of Benjamin Cravatt, Phil Baran and Jin-Quan Yu at Scripps, and is designed to identify new sites in the proteome—which is distinct in each cell—that can be drugged.
The company said in a statement that it’s focused on oncology and immunology, but Miralles did not specify which disease areas it’s interested in. However, he did say that Vividion’s three lead molecules are an adaptor protein, a transcription factor and an E3 ligase, an enzyme involved in breaking down damaged proteins. "A subset” of the three are in-house programs, while another “subset” is being developed with Celgene, which forked over $101 million in March last year to work with Vividion. The four-year alliance is centered on discovering drugs that interact with the ubiquitin proteasome system cells use to break proteins apart, so it’s likely the E3 ligase falls under this pact.
“The three programs in lead optimization are completely orthogonal, meaning they are completely unrelated to one another,” Miralles said.
The sizable raise brings Vividion’s war chest to $165 million, Miralles said, which will allow it to “go full speed ahead” and develop all three lead assets in parallel. Nextech Invest led the financing, with new investors Alexandria Venture Investments, Altitude Life Science Ventures, BVF Partners, Casdin Capital, Mubadala Ventures, Trinitas Capital and Mirae Asset Capital chipping in. Its series A backers ARCH Venture Partners, Cardinal Partners and Versant Ventures also contributed, and so did Celgene.