Codiak piles on more venture cash, amassing $92M for exosome R&D

Startup Codiak BioSciences got off the ground in November with ambitious plans to turn exosomes into cancer therapies and venture commitments totaling more than $80 million. Now the Cambridge, MA, company has boosted its funding total to $92 million, extending its runway as it works through early-stage R&D.

The biotech closed a $61 million Series B, co-led by Arch Venture Partners and Flagship Ventures with contributions from the Alaska Permanent Fund, Alexandria ($ARE) Venture Investments and Fidelity. The latest cash follows a $31 million A round, which drew funds from the same syndicate.

With its financing locked up, Codiak is focusing its attention on exosomes, tiny structures that can shuttle DNA and proteins between cells. Exosomes are ubiquitous throughout the body, and Codiak's plan is to tap their potential as therapeutic agents, focusing first on pancreatic cancer with some intellectual property licensed from MD Anderson.

The company expects to get its lead program into the clinic this year, and it's also at work on therapeutic projects outside of cancer and an effort to use exosomes in diagnostics.

At launch, Codiak brought on Doug Williams to lead as CEO, recruiting a biotech veteran who served stints as head of R&D at Biogen ($BIIB) and CEO of ZymoGenetics before it was sold to Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) for $885 million.

Williams left Biogen in July, just before the company mounted a major restructuring, and joined a parade of high-profile drug developers who ditched major players to lead small biotechs. Former AstraZeneca ($AZN) R&D boss Briggs Morrison followed a similar path when he took over Syndax, as did ex-Merck KGaA research chief Annalisa Jenkins at Dimension Therapeutics ($DMTX) and one-time Pfizer ($PFE) R&D leader Jose-Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos at Synlogic.

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