Fledgling 4s3 garners $20M for rare disease work

The fledgling, Medford, MA-based biotech 4s3 Bioscience has rounded up $20 million in Series A cash to advance its antibody strategy for delivering macromolecules to skeletal tissue--taking a new tack in an effort to find therapies that can treat some rare disorders. The money is flowing from a trust created by the Pritzker/Vlock family along with their newly formed venture group, Alopexx Enterprises, which has a particular focus on early-stage drug work.

4s3 has been working for the past four years on replacing deficient proteins to skeletal muscle, believing the foundation work completed by a UCLA scientist holds the promise for treating the underlying causes of muscular dystrophies, myopathies, motor neuron diseases, diseases of the neuromuscular junction and various enzyme deficiency disorders. It nailed down some early financial support in 2008 from Genzyme and has been incubated at the Venture Development Center at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

"A major obstacle to the treatment of genetic neuromuscular diseases is the challenge of delivering functional macromolecules to skeletal muscle tissue," said Dustin Armstrong, Ph.D., the VP of research for 4s3. "Our approach represents a novel therapeutic strategy to address numerous indications with no currently approved therapies." At the top of the company's disease hit list are myotubular myopathy and myotonic dystrophy. Financial details of the funding were not disclosed.

"We are very impressed with the broad applicability of 4s3's antibody technology and the company's robust intellectual property portfolio," said Dr. Daniel Vlock, the CEO and founder of Alopexx. "The in vivo preclinical data validates the potential for this approach."

- here's the press release