Diagonal Therapeutics Launches with $128 Million Financing

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 03, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Diagonal Therapeutics, a biotechnology company pioneering a new approach to discovering and developing agonist antibodies, launched today with $128 million in financing. The Series A was co-led by BVF Partners and Atlas Venture, with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners, RA Capital Management, Frazier Life Sciences, Viking Global InvestorsVelosity Capital, and Checkpoint Capital. Diagonal was co-founded by Chief Executive Officer, Alex Lugovskoy, Ph.D., and Atlas and previously seeded by Atlas, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Velosity Capital. The financing will support further advancement of the company’s proprietary DIAGONAL platform and pipeline of novel therapeutics to value-creating milestones, including its lead program for the treatment of hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT), a severely debilitating bleeding disorder with limited therapeutic options, through clinical proof-of-concept. Diagonal’s agonist antibody activates a receptor complex in the TGF-β superfamily genetically impaired in HHT patients. In preclinical models of HHT, Diagonal’s agonist antibodies prevent and reverse the formation of pathological vascular malformations.

“We are fundamentally changing how agonist antibody therapies are developed. The DIAGONAL platform allows us to overcome technical limitations that hindered agonist antibody discovery in the past, and we have demonstrated that we can efficiently advance novel drug candidates for diseases where patients have limited or no treatment options,” said Alex Lugovskoy. “Our approach enables us to treat a wide range of disorders where signaling pathways have been disrupted with agonist antibodies that have superior potency and selectivity, tunable and sustained pharmacology, excellent developability, and low immunogenicity.”

“The biopharmaceutical industry has a robust, growing toolkit of approaches to inhibit disease-associated pathways. However, we still lack systematic pharmacologic approaches to activate biological pathways to treat diseases caused by deficient signaling,” said Michael Gladstone, Partner at Atlas Venture and Board Chair of Diagonal. “Diagonal’s platform addresses this unmet need by rapidly identifying antibodies that activate key pathways. I am excited to support them as they advance their therapeutic candidates for patients in need.”

DIAGONAL Platform and Pipeline

Unlike most approved antibodies, which inhibit a cellular function, agonist antibodies activate a signaling cascade by binding two receptors and bringing them together in a highly specific conformation that enables their activation. Given the many potential binding sites between each receptor and an antibody, nearly infinite binding configurations exist, of which only a small subset will result in the desired agonistic activity. Historically, this has made identifying or rationally designing agonist antibodies difficult.

The DIAGONAL platform solves this challenge, combining proprietary computational and experimental techniques that enable Diagonal scientists to sift through billions of combinations at unprecedented speeds and with high fidelity.

Using the platform, Diagonal has discovered antibody candidates against four complex targets, providing a new path to treating severe diseases, including:

  • Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT): HHT is a monogenic, orphan disease that affects more than 150,000 patients in the US and EU and for which there are currently no approved therapies. In HHT, mutations in the TGF-β receptor superfamily complex create two types of abnormal blood vessels – telangiectasias and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) – that are fragile and susceptible to rupture and bleeding. These bleeding events lead to chronic anemia, necessitating frequent iron infusions or red blood cell transfusions. AVMs, if left untreated, may result in lung and brain hemorrhage, stroke, heart failure, and death. Diagonal’s agonist antibody candidates reactivate dormant signaling, addressing the root cause of the disease.
  • Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH): PAH is an orphan disease that results in high blood pressure that affects the arteries in the lungs and the right side of the heart. In patients with PAH, narrowing of the vasculature is caused by an imbalance in the antiproliferative and hyperproliferative pathways. Diagonal’s agonist antibody corrects signaling and restores vascular wall homeostasis.

About Diagonal Therapeutics
Diagonal Therapeutics is a biotech company pioneering a new approach to discovering and developing agonist antibodies. The Company’s DIAGONAL platform combines proprietary computational and experimental techniques to overcome historical challenges associated with agonist antibody drug discovery. Diagonal’s emerging pipeline – discovered using the DIAGONAL platform – has the potential to deliver life-changing therapies to patients by tackling the underlying cause of disease. For more information, please visit www.diagonaltx.com.