Wren raises £18M to drug protein-misfolding diseases

Wren Therapeutics CEO Samuel Cohen (St John’s College, Cambridge)

Wren Therapeutics has raised £18 million ($23 million). The British biotech will use the series A round to advance its research into drugs to treat protein-misfolding diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge and Lund University founded Wren in 2016 to advance a technology potentially applicable to dozens of diseases that stem from the misfolding and malfunction of proteins, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Type 2 diabetes. Malin, the investment shop run by ex-Elan CEO Kelly Martin, took a 33% stake in the startup two years ago.

Now, Wren has expanded its syndicate of investors in an £18 million series A. The Baupost Group led the round with the support of LifeForce Capital and some high net worth individuals. Malin, which had an option to increase its stake to 67%, isn’t mentioned in Wren’s statement about the series A.


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The syndicate has come together in the belief that Wren can crack the challenge of treating protein-misfolding diseases. Misfolded proteins trigger cascades of events implicated in more than 50 diseases but, despite this knowledge, many conditions with these root causes remain poorly treated. Wren thinks its approach can change that. 

“Wren’s new and unique approach is instead built on concepts from the physical sciences and focuses on the chemical kinetics of the protein misfolding process, creating a predictive and quantitatively driven platform that has the potential to radically advance drug discovery in this class of diseases,” Samuel Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Wren, said in a statement.

The approach entails mapping the chemical kinetic networks associated with misfolded proteins. Using the maps, Wren hopes to discover and develop small molecules and antibodies capable of selectively modulating the nonlinear networks and thereby treat protein-misfolding diseases. 

Wren is yet to share many details of its pipeline, stating only that it is interested in neurology, ophthalmology and metabolic diseases. The series A will fund Wren’s work in these areas and its move to open a satellite office in Boston. Wren is based out of Cambridge, U.K.

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