SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--BlackThorn Therapeutics, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company discovering and developing targeted treatments for neurobehavioral disorders, announced that it has closed a $40 million Series A financing. The financing was led by founding investor ARCH Venture Partners and supported by Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc., along with Altitude Life Science Ventures, Mercury Fund, Alexandria Real Estate Equities and an undisclosed crossover fund.
Founded in collaboration with top research institutions and with a world-class roster of scientific advisors, BlackThorn aims to be the leading neurobehavioral health company.
“Academic research in the field of neurobehavioral disorders has provided sophisticated methods for assessing brain disease. BlackThorn is dedicated to putting into practice this new and modern framework for drug discovery and development that applies scientific rigor and capital efficiency,” said Mark Corrigan, M.D., executive chairman of BlackThorn. “We intend to lead the change in the treatment paradigm by investing in the validation and standardization of new technologies that will not only advance our own drug development platform and pipeline, but ultimately help a growing patient population suffering with imprecise and inadequate treatment options.”
BlackThorn is committed to building a robust portfolio of first- and best-in-class treatments by leveraging recent advances in neuroscience. The company’s lead program will evaluate BTRX-246040, a first-in-class antagonist of the nociceptin receptor (NOPR), a target linked to multiple neurobehavioral disorders. The compound is currently entering phase 2 clinical trials and leads a pipeline of small molecule programs. Development of BTRX-246040 as well as the rest of the BlackThorn portfolio is enabled by the company’s INFORM™ platform. INFORM supports the discovery and development of targeted treatments by linking brain physiology to behavior using advanced functional imaging and objective assessment tools that quantify emotion, behavior and cognition while relying less on traditional qualitative clinical observations.
“BlackThorn’s management team and Board are highly respected and experienced, with a solid track record of scientific excellence and commercial success in CNS,” said Kristina Burow, managing director at ARCH Venture Partners. “With the enormous need for new thinking in CNS drug development, BlackThorn aims for nothing less than to develop new treatments fueled by an understanding of brain physiology and its relationship to neurobehavioral disorders to transform the lives of patients and their families.”
Experienced Management Team with Deep CNS Expertise
BlackThorn is currently led by Dr. Corrigan, who previously served as chief executive officer of Zalicus and executive vice president of Research and Development at Sepracor, where he developed three marketed drugs, including Lunesta®. He is a director of CoLucid, Cardiome, Quartet and Nabriva.
Other members of BlackThorn’s senior leadership team include:
- Bill Martin, Ph.D., chief scientific officer, who was previously at Theravance Biopharma, where he was executive director, leading teams of scientists in discovery and development for multiple therapeutic areas, including neuroscience.
- Annette Madrid, M.D., chief medical officer, who served as chief medical officer for Balance Therapeutics and Jazz Pharmaceuticals.
- Scott Forrest, Ph.D., vice president of operations and corporate development, who was previously vice president of business development at The Scripps Research Institute, where he was responsible for all corporate partnership activities.
BlackThorn’s leadership team is complemented by its experienced Board of Directors. Joining Dr. Corrigan and Kristina Burow are John MacPhee, currently chief executive officer of The Jed Foundation and a director at Adamas Pharmaceuticals, who as vice president of Forest Laboratories led the launches of Celexa® and Lexapro®; and Asish Xavier, Ph.D., from Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc., who has invested in over 20 healthcare companies.
World-class Researchers and Thought Leaders Serve as Scientific Advisors
BlackThorn’s founding scientific team includes Edward Roberts, Ph.D., and Hugh Rosen, M.D., Ph.D., of The Scripps Research Institute, who previously co-founded Receptos (acquired by Celgene for $7.8 billion) and are collectively responsible for seven marketed drugs and multiple drug candidates in advanced development.
A distinguished scientific advisory board is led by co-chairs Steven Hyman, M.D., director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research and core member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, and Matt State, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and director of the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute.
Thomas Daniel, M.D., most recently president of research and early development at Celgene Corporation, serves as a senior advisor to the team.
A New Understanding of Brain Disorders
Historically, neurobehavioral disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression and schizophrenia have been described in broad categorical terms; however, such categories do not necessarily map to disease pathology. Advances in neuroscience are allowing researchers to understand the underlying physiology of each disorder and consequently identify patient subpopulations that can be specifically targeted. The ability to segment patients will allow for more accurate and less expensive clinical trials yielding novel, targeted treatments that directly modulate the brain physiology responsible for neurobehavioral health.
About BlackThorn Therapeutics, Inc.
BlackThorn Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to transforming the lives of people with neurobehavioral disorders through the discovery and development of novel, targeted treatments. BlackThorn is building a robust pipeline of first- and best-in-class treatments, and is redefining the industry approach to drug discovery and development through its INFORM™ platform, which links brain physiology and its relationship to behavior. With its network of collaborations with leading academic investigators, BlackThorn is developing and deploying a set of technologies that will enable focused, rapid, resource-efficient translational studies for drug development. The company is headquartered in South San Francisco, California. For more information, please visit http://www.blackthornrx.com.
About ARCH Venture Partners
ARCH Venture Partners, one of the largest early stage technology venture firms in the U.S., invests in seed and early stage advanced technology companies. ARCH enjoys special recognition as a leader in the commercialization of technologies developed at academic institutions, corporate research labs and national laboratories. ARCH has earned a reputation as one of the leading venture firms in early stage biotechnology, advanced materials, alternative energy, and specialty semiconductors, and is known for identifying and capitalizing early on fundamental trends in disruptive technology. Now in its 30th year, ARCH has over $2 billion in committed capital through nine venture funds, and has co-founded and provided initial investments for over 200 companies, including Illumina, Juno Therapeutics, Receptos, Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, Ikaria and Agios Pharmaceuticals.