CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Yumanity Therapeutics, a company focused on transforming drug discovery for diseases caused by protein misfolding, today announced a $45 million Series A financing from leading life sciences investors. The financing is being led by Fidelity Management & Research Company with participation by Redmile Group, Alexandria Venture Investments, Biogen, Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures and Dolby Family Ventures. The Series A financing will accelerate efforts to advance Yumanity Therapeutics’ proprietary platforms aimed at identifying novel therapies to treat neurodegenerative diseases caused by protein misfolding including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The accumulation of misfolded proteins is believed to play a central role in the initiation and progression of virtually all neurodegenerative diseases.
“We are delighted to have the support of such an accomplished group of investors,” said Tony Coles, M.D., chairman and chief executive officer of Yumanity Therapeutics. “This financing is a testament to the work done over the last year building and validating the discovery platforms developed in the laboratory of Dr. Susan Lindquist and to the quality and capability of the company’s scientific team. These proceeds will allow us to devote the resources necessary for our research efforts as we work to discover new drugs for these devastating illnesses. We are strongly positioned to continue executing on the science with the goal of helping the millions of people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases.”
In conjunction with the financing, John Cox, executive vice president of therapeutic operations, Biogen and Joel Marcus, chairman, chief executive officer and founder, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc./Alexandria Venture Investments, will join the Yumanity Therapeutics board of directors. Dr. Coles and Jeff Kelly, Ph.D., chairman, department of molecular and experimental medicine, Scripps Research Institute, will continue to serve on the Yumanity Therapeutics board of directors with Dr. Coles serving as chairman.
“Yumanity Therapeutics brings a skilled, passionate team and unique strategy to targeting the underlying protein pathology of neurodegenerative diseases,” said Bernard Davitian, vice president and managing director of Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures. “We look forward to working together as investors with Yumanity Therapeutics to advance its discovery platform and make headway against these historically challenging diseases that represent an area of significant medical need.”
It is estimated that more than 55 million people worldwide suffer from neurodegenerative diseases, with no currently approved disease-modifying therapies available.1,2,3 As modern therapeutic interventions increase life expectancy, the number of patients suffering from these diseases is expected to double every 20 years.1,2 Global costs for treating these diseases are currently estimated at $818 billion and expected to grow to more than $1 trillion by 2030.1,2,3
About Yumanity Therapeutics
Yumanity Therapeutics is transforming drug discovery for neurodegenerative diseases caused by protein misfolding. Formed in 2014 by renowned biotech industry leader, Tony Coles, M.D., and protein folding science pioneer, Susan Lindquist, Ph.D., the company is initially focused on discovering disease-modifying therapies for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Leveraging its three integrated platforms, Yumanity’s innovative new approach to drug discovery and development concentrates on reversing the cellular phenotypes and disease pathologies caused by protein misfolding. For more information, please visit yumanity.com.
About Protein Misfolding
DNA is the foundational code for all proteins. The linear information in DNA is first “decoded” into linear strands of amino acids. These strands must then fold in a very precise, highly complex way to form proteins with distinct shapes and functions. When this folding goes awry, critical functions are lost and, even worse, renegade proteins can set off cascades of destruction, causing brain cells to malfunction and die. This was one of the earliest biological problems solved by life on earth and the mechanisms are shared from yeast to man.
Protein misfolding plays a key role in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and ALS. For each of the diseases, as the “culprit proteins” misfold, they damage nerve cells in various ways, interacting with different cellular components and causing distinct pathways of cell destruction. The cellular stresses caused by protein misfolding lead to aggregation, or clumping of proteins which forms sticky deposits in the brain cells themselves, or in brain tissue, resulting in nerve cell damage and, ultimately, cell death. Because this is an ancient problem, these proteins damage yeast cells in similar ways, allowing unprecedented high-throughput screening for correcting compounds.
1. UBS, Alzheimer’s Report, July 2014; Industry Research.
2. Alzheimer’s Disease International, World Alzheimer Report 2015
3. Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. http://www.pdf.org/en/parkinson_statistics