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Protein Drug Discovery Company Launches, Gains $50M

Test tubes

(Makunin, Pixabay)

2 February 2017. A biotechnology enterprise founded by faculty at Scripps Research Institute plans to discover new therapies based on complex interactions with human proteins. Vividion Therapeutics Inc. in San Diego is starting out with $50 million raised in its first venture funding round.

Vividion Therapeutics aims to identify treatment candidates for serious diseases considered up to now difficult to address. The company’s technology is based on research by one of its scientific founders, biochemistry professor Benjamin Cravatt at Scripps Research Institute, also in San Diego. Cravatt is joined as Vividion founders by Scripps chemistry colleagues Phil Baran and Jin-Quan Yu.

Cravatt’s lab at Scripps studies the chemistry of human proteins, including interactions between enzymes and other proteins with human cells. Research by Cravatt and colleagues led to the lab’s activity-based protein profiling techniques, which they say offer unique portraits of cells and tissues, and highlight different ways to regulate metabolic and signaling networks in the body. This emphasis on protein activity rather than quantity, says the lab, yields new markers and targets for diagnosing and treating disease.

Vividion’s technology applies this research to the task of drug discovery, which the company says overcomes limitations with current drug discovery methods, often restricted in scope, and can omit some interactions between proteins and cells in the body. The company’s profiling techniques match the interactions between small-molecule drug candidates and human cells against indexes of drug-protein signatures from across entire catalog of human proteins. Vividion’s technology then maps the drug activity across the entire protein catalog, noting where the interactions have their effects.

In addition to the three researchers, Vividion Therapeutics is co-founded by John Clarke, managing general partner of Cardinal Partners, a health care investor in Princeton, New Jersey. In its first venture funding round, the company is raising $50 million, led by technology investment company Arch Venture Partners and health care investor Versant Ventures. Cardinal Partners joined in the financing.

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Hat tip: Fortune/Term Sheet

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