LA JOLLA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Enlaza Therapeutics, the first covalent biologic platform company, today announced its official launch with the closing of $61 million in seed financing. The financing was led by Avalon Ventures and joined by Lightspeed Venture Partners, Frazier Life Sciences, and Samsara BioCapital. The financing will be used to further advance Enlaza’s proprietary War-Lock platform and build a pipeline of covalent biologics with an initial focus on developing novel, differentiated cancer therapeutics with targeted efficacy and low toxicity.
“We’ve combined recent breakthroughs that allow introduction of proprietary unnatural amino acids to protein drugs, which enables specific covalent binding to their target proteins,” said Sergio Duron, Ph.D., CEO of Enlaza Therapeutics. “Our covalent biologic platform is white-space technology, and we are pioneering an entirely new class of biologic therapeutics with the potential for significantly improved efficacy and safety to address numerous indications and disease areas.”
“Enlaza has built a highly differentiated therapeutic platform which, for the first time, will enable covalent biologics,” said Jay Lichter, Ph.D., Managing Partner of Avalon Ventures. “The platform provides the opportunity to develop drugs against multiple target classes, offering opportunities across all therapeutic areas.”
The War-Lock platform creates highly specific therapeutic warheads that lock onto targets of interest, producing broadly applicable therapeutic candidates with excellent drug-like properties. For example, protein drugs derived from the platform can be modified to incorporate various payloads, creating antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) or radioligand therapies (RLTs) with specific target tissue delivery, without the need for half-life extension engineering. Enlaza has generated preclinical data for its oncology drug candidates showing fast tumor penetration coupled with high systemic clearance, high tumor retention, and low off-target toxicity.
“The breadth of Enlaza’s platform will be transformative across multiple modalities,” said Shelley Chu, M.D., Ph.D., Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners.
Marcos Milla, Ph.D., Venture Partner at Samsara BioCapital said, “The Enlaza platform opens the possibility to enhance the therapeutic index of biologic drugs in a way that is not accessible with platforms relying on conventional recombinant technologies. It also offers an opportunity to address hard to target cell surface molecules in a highly specific fashion.”
“We are impressed with the in vitro and in vivo data the team has generated and believe that Enlaza can build an industry leading pipeline of important new protein drugs employing its incomparable technological advantage,” said Jamie Topper, M.D., Ph.D., Managing Partner of Frazier Life Sciences.
In addition to Dr. Duron, Enlaza’s leadership team includes Sanford (Sandy) Madigan, Ph.D., President and Chief Business Officer, Analeah Heidt, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, and Lei Wang Ph.D., Scientific Advisor and Professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). The company’s Board of Directors is comprised of Jay Lichter, Ph.D. Avalon Ventures; Jamie Topper, M.D., Ph.D., Frazier Life Sciences, Shelley Chu, M.D., Ph.D., Lightspeed Venture Partners, Marcos Milla, Ph.D., Samsara BioCapital, and Sergio Duron, Ph.D., CEO, Enlaza Therapeutics.
Enlaza’s War-Lock platform is based on technologies exclusively licensed from UCSF, negotiated through UCSF’s Innovation Ventures’ Office of Technology Management & Advancement, which leads licensing and business development efforts on behalf of the University, and The Scripps Research Institute.
About Enlaza Therapeutics
Enlaza Therapeutics is pioneering the field of covalent biologics. These novel classes of protein therapeutics deliver more efficacious and safer treatments for patients. The company’s proprietary War-LockTM platform leverages leading synthetic biology technology for site-specific covalent coupling driven by drug binding. Enlaza is building a pipeline of first-in-class covalent biologics. For more information, please visit www.enlazatx.com.