SEATTLE & SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Inipharm today announced the close of a $35 million Series A financing round. Founded in 2018, the company is focused on discovering and developing therapies for liver and related diseases, with its initial program focused on those associated with the genetically defined target HSD17B13. The Series A funding will support the advancement of Inipharm’s lead program through IND filing and into clinical trials. The company also announced that Brian Daniels, M.D., partner at 5AM Ventures, and Hannah Chang, M.D., Ph.D., managing director at Wu Capital, have joined Inipharm’s board of directors.
“HSD17B13 is a fascinating target with strong genetic links to numerous liver diseases. The Inipharm team, along with CRO partner Jubilant Biosys, has made excellent early progress in modulating this target with small molecules, and we are thrilled to support the company to accelerate their efforts towards the clinic,” said founding board member Dan Estes, Ph.D., general partner at Frazier Healthcare Partners.
Advancing a pipeline with a validated target
Inipharm is advancing a therapeutic pipeline that addresses severe liver diseases. Inipharm’s program is focused on targeting the activity of the HSD17B13 gene. There is extensive, consistent evidence showing that certain variants of this gene are associated with lower rates of disease, less severe disease and reduced levels of liver damage, including inflammation and fibrosis.
“Inflammation and fibrosis are common end results of many liver diseases, and it appears that HSD17B13 activity could be an important common link in protecting against disease progression,” said Dr. Chang. “Inipharm is building on novel insights into the biologic activity of HSD17B13 to advance a collection of potent and selective small molecules that mimic the protective phenotype.”
Driven by a veteran leadership team
Inipharm’s executive leadership includes Brian Farmer, co-founder and chief executive officer of the company, who also serves as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Frazier Healthcare and was chief business officer and chief financial officer at liver and metabolic disease-focused Cirius Therapeutics, as well as chief business officer of Mavupharma prior to its acquisition by AbbVie. Heather Hsu, Ph.D., serves as Inipharm’s CSO and is a veteran of drug discovery and early development whose previous experience includes roles at Gilead and Calistoga Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Hsu is joined by Mavupharma veterans Vince Florio, Ph.D., and Joshua Odingo, Ph.D., who lead pharmacology and chemistry, respectively. Also serving on Inipharm’s board of directors are Michael Gallatin Ph.D., co-founder of Inipharm and chair of the company’s scientific advisory board, and Bob Baltera, CEO of Cirius Therapeutics.
“Our team of drug discovery and development experts, who built Mavupharma’s program to target the STING pathway, is developing small molecules to target HSD17B13 as an alternative to other approaches based on RNA knockdown,” said Brian Farmer. “The potential for therapies that effectively target HSD17B13 activity is significant because it is linked to a broad spectrum of liver and related diseases.”
Inipharm is a biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing therapies for severe liver diseases. Inipharm’s lead programs are focused on the highly validated genetic target, HSD17B13. Extensive, consistent evidence that genetic variants in expression of HSD17B13 are associated with significantly lower rates and severity of multiple liver diseases. Building on these novel insights into the biologic activity of HSD17B13, Inipharm is advancing a pipeline of small-molecule therapies that target the activity of this protein.