The Lead Discovery Center GmbH (LDC), the Max Planck Society (MPG) and Max Planck Innovation (MI) announce that their associated company Quench Bio Inc., Cambridge, USA has raised USD 50 million in a Series A financing round. The financing was led by RA Capital Management (RA Capital) and included Abbvie Ventures as well as co-founders and seed investors Atlas Venture (Atlas) and Arix Bioscience plc (Arix).
Quench Bio develops therapies targeting innate immune pathways to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The approach centres on a pore-forming protein called Gasdermin D that was identified as a potential new target during a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, Germany, the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology in Dortmund, Germany and the LDC.
In close collaboration, the partners generated a series of Gasdermin inhibitors that prevent the release of inflammatory cytokines, alarmins and neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), thereby validating the protein as a key target at the core of multiple inflammatory cell death pathways, including pyroptosis and NETosis. The specific targeting of Gasdermin represents a novel mode of action for the treatment of numerous inflammatory diseases associated with NETosis, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). When Quench Bio was founded in 2018, it received an exclusive license to IP relating to the therapeutic use of Gasdermin by LDC and MI. The co-founders, besides LDC and MI, include Atlas, Arix and MPG Directors Prof. Arturo Zychlinsky and Prof. Herbert Waldmann, among others.
The company has brought together an experienced team of drug developers and scientists, led by Chief Executive Officer Samantha Truex, the former Chief Business Officer of Padlock Therapeutics, which was acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb in 2016.
“With such a strong team of entrepreneurs, scientists and investors, the company is in an excellent position to deliver on the promise of an exciting new therapeutic platform concept,” says Bert Klebl, one of the LDC’s managing directors. “The emergence of Quench exemplifies the power of our collaborative approach to drug discovery. Together, we have been able to translate the discovery of Gasdermin and its role in inflammatory cell death into a validated therapeutic strategy with game-changing potential in many inflammation-related indications.”
“The LDC has already demonstrated a track record of successful outlicensing deals to pharma companies. The foundation of Quench Bio represents a major step in the spin-off sector. This VC-backed form of commercialization of MPG/LDC projects allows exquisitely well-focused, comprehensive and fast development,” adds Dieter Link, licensing manager at Max Planck Innovation.
“I’m delighted by the strong support from MPG, MI, LDC and our investors, which enables us to advance our scientific findings towards medical practice,” adds Prof. Arturo Zychlinsky, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology. “Targeting inflammatory cell death pathways is a unique approach and may provide new opportunities for patients who currently have very limited treatment options.”
“Gasdermins are among, if not the most innovative and truly novel targets for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. They offer multiple opportunities for a whole flight of drug discovery programs,” adds Prof. Herbert Waldmann, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology and Member of the Board of Directors of Quench Bio. “The Quench team is highly experienced in drug discovery and commands in-depth knowledge in the relevant disease areas, so that the company is ideally positioned for success.”