Star scientist Peter Mueller gets $28M war chest to advance R&D at Pronutria

Peter Mueller

Last November the upstart biotech Pronutria Biosciences landed Peter Mueller as its R&D chief shortly after he stepped aside from his starring role as research chief for Vertex. And now the Cambridge, MA-based biotech, which emerged from Flagship Ventures' incubator, has landed $28 million in financing to advance its drug development efforts.

Pronutria filed its latest fundraising with the SEC, including a list of officers and directors that make up part of a who's who in Boston biotech circles. Robert Connelly, a venture partner at Flagship Ventures and founding CEO of Domantis in the U.K., is CEO, with Flagship Managing Partner Noubar Afeyan and Flagship partner David Berry joining MIT's Charles Cooney, Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, attorney Peter Hutt, John Mendlein, CEO of aTyr Pharma and Vice Chairman of Fate Therapeutics, and others on the board.

Mueller, making what has become a classic pivot from company insider to a biotech startup exec, is concentrating on restoring homeostasis, devising oral biologics that can treat diseases caused by an imbalance of amino acids. And the biotech intends to pick from a library of more than a billion polypeptides to find the right drug candidates for delivering amino acids.

Mueller played a huge role in the growth of Vertex ($VRTX), where he championed new drugs for hepatitis C (Incivek) and then cystic fibrosis (Kalydeco). Gregarious and engaged with the work of drug development, Mueller has been a colorful figure in the Boston supercluster, where he's been outspoken about finding new ways to speed development programs.

A year ago Pronutria announced that it had raised about $12 million for its Series B, bringing its total at the time up to $23 million since its launch in 2011. It's one of dozens of new biotechs that have been launched over the past two years in the Cambridge/Boston supercluster.

- here's the filing

Special Reports: 10 top drugs in biopharma's late-stage pipeline - VX-809/VX-661, Vertex | Top 15 highest paid biopharma R&D chiefs - Peter Mueller, Vertex Pharmaceuticals | Which Big Biotechs are hitting the gas pedal on R&D spending?

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