WALTHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Morphic Therapeutic, a biotechnology company developing a new generation of oral integrin drugs, announced today that it has completed a $51.5 million Series A financing to advance multiple programs into the clinic. The round was co-led by SR One and Pfizer Venture Investments, joined by Omega Funds and AbbVie Ventures. They join founding investors Polaris Partners, T.A. Springer and Schrödinger, Inc., along with ShangPharma Investment Group.
Morphic Therapeutic was founded to translate advances from the laboratory of Timothy A. Springer, Ph.D., the Latham Family Professor at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, into new therapies for immunological, fibrotic, neoplastic and vascular diseases. Springer’s initial discovery of integrins in the 1980s fueled the first generation of integrin targeted R&D. Six injectable integrin therapies are approved for treatment of multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, plaque psoriasis, acute coronary syndrome and complications during percutaneous coronary intervention. However, many other attempts to develop oral integrin therapies have faced multiple challenges. Morphic is leveraging recent discoveries from Springer’s lab that may overcome these challenges to enable the development of small molecule integrin inhibitors.
“This is a tremendously exciting time in drug development, when scientific understanding has advanced significantly, creating a clear path forward for effective targeting of the integrin family using rationally designed small molecules,” said Praveen Tipirneni, President & Chief Executive Officer of Morphic Therapeutic, who succeeds Kevin Bitterman, founding CEO and Polaris partner.
Integrins are a ubiquitous family of receptors expressed on the surface of most human cells. Integrin signaling controls a wide range of cellular processes, including cell survival, cell cycle progression, cell differentiation and cell migration. Aberrant signaling contributes to a diverse array of human diseases, including each of Morphic Therapeutic’s focus areas of fibrosis, autoimmune diseases and immuno-oncology.
Recent discoveries from the Springer lab have illuminated the reasons behind the failure of past attempts to create oral drug candidates directed at integrin targets by showing how compounds designed to turn off integrin activity inadvertently worked to promote it. Morphic has developed an exclusive platform to build on these discoveries, including proprietary reagents for assays and ultra-high resolution integrin crystal structures and a founding partnership with Schrödinger, Inc. that facilitates the rapid and iterative design of the development candidates.
“The Morphic Therapeutic platform provides an exciting opportunity to combine Schrödinger’s 25-year technology investment and expertise with an integrated drug discovery engine to rapidly produce differentiated integrin drug candidates,” said Ramy Farid, President of Schrödinger.
“Integrins are a high unmet need area for new therapies. More than any other, the Springer lab has been and continues to be at the forefront of discovering and deciphering integrin structural and functional biology to advance R&D against these targets," said Vikas Goyal of SR One. "Morphic's incredible science, cutting edge structural capabilities and unrivaled drug development team uniquely position the company to lead the next wave of innovation in integrin therapeutics.”
Morphic Therapeutic is led by an experienced team with deep expertise in all phases of drug development. The leadership and development team includes Chief Executive Officer Praveen Tipirneni, M.D., former Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Global Strategy at Cubist Pharmaceuticals; Chief Scientific Officer Bruce Rogers, Ph.D., former head of Neuro-Opportunities and Senior Director of Medicinal Chemistry at Pfizer and Pharmacia; Chief Development Officer Alex Lugovskoy, Ph.D., former Vice President of Therapeutics at Merrimack Pharmaceuticals and Associate Director of Drug Discovery at Biogen; Vice President of Chemistry Blaise Lippa, Ph.D., former Senior Director of Medicinal Chemistry at Cubist; and Vice President of Finance and Operations Robert Farrell, CPA, former Vice President Finance and Administration at Genocea Biosciences.
About Morphic Therapeutic
Morphic Therapeutic is a biotechnology company developing a new generation of oral integrin therapies. Drawing on discoveries made in the lab of Scientific Founder Tim Springer, Morphic was created in 2015 with co-founders Polaris Partners, T.A. Springer and Schrödinger, Inc., along with ShangPharma Investment Group. For more information, visit www.morphictx.com