Two years ago, Landos Biopharma was the first biotech to come out of Xontogeny, the accelerator started by former Sarepta Therapeutics chief Chris Garabedian. Now, the autoimmune specialist has picked up $60 million to propel its lead program into phase 2 for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The series B funding will also advance Landos’ earlier-stage pipeline, which includes candidates slated to enter the clinic in 2020. It comes from RTW Investments, Osage University Partners, PBM Capital and Perceptive Advisors—which includes Perceptive Life Sciences Fund and Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Fund.
Landos is based upon the work of CEO Josep Bassaganya-Riera, Ph.D., a serial entrepreneur and Virginia Tech professor who outlined the potential for targeting the lanthionine synthetase c-like protein 2 (LANCL2) pathway to affect immune and inflammatory responses in a 2014 paper. Bassaganya-Riera went on to discover a drug that selectively binds LANCL2, found Landos and pick up $10 million from Perceptive Advisors to drive its lead program.
The program, dubbed BT-11, is a small molecule that targets LANCL2 in the gut. In a phase 1 study published earlier this year, the drug beat placebo at lowering levels of fecal calprotectin, which Landos believes is a predictive biomarker of response to treatment in IBD. The company will kick off global phase 2 trials in the two main forms of IBD: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
“We believe BT-11’s mechanism of action is differentiated with the potential to transform the current treatment paradigm for patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease,” said Rod Wong, M.D., a managing partner at RTW Investments who has just joined Landos’ board, in a statement.
Landos is looking to provide a new option for patients with moderate to severe cases of IBD for whom current treatments are inadequate or have side effects. People with IBD may be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs or immunosuppressants such as anti-TNF (tumor necrosis factor) meds, but Landos believes the former can be used only in mild inflammation and reckons the latter only works in up to 60% of patients.
“We believe there is tremendous commercial potential for an oral compound for IBD and BT-11 is the most promising candidate we’ve seen at this stage of development,” said Garabedian, portfolio manager at Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Fund. “As an investor in the Series A, we are impressed with the productivity and efficiency of the Landos team in completing a comprehensive preclinical program, securing two open INDs, and successfully generating Phase 1 clinical results in less than two years, and are prepared to move forward with two global Phase 2 studies in ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.”