AstraZeneca backs $12M round for upstart's self-assembling drug pipeline

A tiny, upstart biotech based in a college incubator facility has landed $12 million in venture cash and a high-profile CEO to lead the company's work on small molecules that are delivered in pieces and self-assemble inside of cells. 

Hatteras Venture Partners, AstraZeneca's MedImmune Ventures and Ascent Biomedical Ventures came together on the B round, which was announced alongside the news that Colin Goddard, the former CEO of OSI, is taking the helm of the biotech. Coferon is based on the Stony Brook University campus in New York. OSI was sold to Astellas in a $4 billion deal.

The biotech is relying on a platform approach, using technology developed by its three academic founders: Dr. Francis Barany and Dr. Maneesh Pingle at Weill-Cornell Medical College, and Dr. Don Bergstrom at Purdue University. Coferon plans to use its knowledge of linker chemistry to create self-assembling drugs, initially mapping out plans for an anti-infectives target and intracellular epigenetic regulatory proteins. And they say that they have the preclinical proof of concept data needed to demonstrate that they are on the right track.

"Having taken the journey from 'Test Tube to Mouse,' we are now excited to work with a strong venture syndicate in applying the technology in therapeutic areas where we believe we can exert a profound impact on important unmet, or poorly met, diseases," says Goddard in a statement.

- here's the press release