CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Padlock Therapeutics, a biotechnology company dedicated to creating new medicines for destructive autoimmune diseases, today announced that the company raised $23 million in a Series A financing led by Atlas Venture. Padlock plans to use the proceeds from this financing to deepen its understanding of the role of protein-arginine deiminases (PADs) in autoimmune disease and to advance its pipeline of PAD-directed therapeutics. Padlock is focused on the role of PAD enzymes in generating citrullinated protein antigens and other autoantigens and proinflammatory mediators in autoimmune disease. By extinguishing autoantigen production instead of suppressing immune system activity, the company hopes to develop fundamentally new treatments for autoimmune disease that complement or surpass current therapies. Clinical applications under evaluation include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and multiple sclerosis.
“While the roots of this science are over fifty years old, recent advances in PAD biology and biochemistry, including work by Padlock’s scientific co-founders, have enabled us to pursue rational development of inhibitors of these enzymes for the treatment of autoimmune disease,” said Michael Gilman, Ph.D., Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Padlock. "Padlock hopes to take the discovery of autoimmune disease therapies in an entirely new direction with the potential to help patients currently underserved by available treatments.”
Padlock was co-founded in January 2014 by Atlas Venture and Dr. Gilman in conjunction with Paul Thompson, Ph.D., and Kerri Mowen, Ph.D., whose research at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) on the PAD enzyme family serves as the basis for Padlock’s science.
Padlock was incubated as part of the Atlas Venture seed program. Bruce Booth, D.Phil., partner at Atlas Venture, serves as chairman of the Padlock Board of Directors. Other members of the board are Dr. Gilman; Marian Nakada, Ph.D., Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc.; Nilesh Kumar, Ph.D., MS Ventures; and David Grainger, Ph.D., Index Ventures. Todd Huffman, Ph.D., TSRI, serves as a board observer.
“Atlas Venture is proud to see yet another seed company achieve successful validation of its innovative hypothesis with support from a strong syndicate of investors,” said Bruce Booth. “With the outstanding scientific and business leadership of the founding team and their considerable financial resources, Padlock is well positioned to be the industry leader in development of therapies targeting PAD enzymes and in turn making a significant difference to patients suffering with autoimmune disease.”
"With this financing, Padlock is poised to be the defining PAD company, using its key insights in PAD biology to address several autoimmune diseases," said Nilesh Kumar, PhD, Director MS Ventures, the strategic corporate venture arm of the biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. "We are pleased to support Padlock's efforts against these promising and as yet undrugged targets."
“The PAD enzymes are among the most exciting targets out there that have yet to be modulated by drugs. Padlock has assembled a great team to put that right, and Index Ventures is delighted to support those efforts,” said David Grainger, partner at Index Ventures.
In association with this financing, Padlock has secured an exclusive license from TSRI to technology and know-how developed by Drs. Thompson and Mowen, which now play an integral role in Padlock’s drug discovery efforts.
“Autoantigens are active participants in the development of autoimmune disease through their role in initiating, perpetuating, and intensifying the autoimmune response,” said Dr. Thompson, currently Professor and Director of Chemical Biology at University of Massachusetts Medical School. “Padlock is on the forefront of developing novel drugs that can inhibit the enzymes that produce autoantigens in certain patients, which has great potential to make a difference in their lives.”
About Atlas Venture
Atlas Venture is a leading early-stage international venture capital firm that invests in technology and life sciences businesses. Since inception in 1980, its partners have helped build over 350 companies in more than 16 different countries. Atlas Venture is currently investing from its ninth fund which closed in May 2013. For more information, visit www.atlasventure.com.
Padlock Therapeutics is a private, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company dedicated to creating new medicines to treat destructive autoimmune diseases. The company leverages the breakthrough science on the role of protein citrullination in disease to develop drugs targeting protein-arginine deiminase (PAD) enzymes. Padlock was founded by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute in conjunction with Atlas Venture. Padlock’s Series A investors include Atlas Venture, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc., MS Ventures, and Index Ventures. For more information on Padlock, visit www.padlocktherapeutics.com.