Ventus Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company utilizing structural biology and computational tools to identify and develop small molecule therapeutics across a broad range of disease indications, has announced the closing of a $140 million Series C financing.
The Series C is co-led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and RA Capital Management with participation from Qatar Investment Authority, Andreessen Horowitz, BVF Partners L.P., Casdin Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Alexandria Venture Investments, GV (formerly Google Ventures), and founding investor Versant Ventures.
Concurrent with this financing, John Cassidy, Ph.D., of SoftBank Investment Advisers will join the Ventus Board of Directors.
“We believe this funding from leading investors will help us scale up our ReSOLVE platform while simultaneously driving towards planned investigational new drug (IND) submissions for our three lead programs in 2023,” said Marcelo Bigal, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of Ventus.
The Series C financing is expected to allow Ventus to accelerate the scaling of its ReSOLVE platform to address targets previously considered undruggable and enhance its performance by automating processes, expanding machine learning capabilities, and constructing larger proprietary virtual libraries.
The company also plans to continue to advance its lead drug programs that target key modulators in the innate immune system, including NLRP3 (NLR pyrin domain-containing 3) and cGAS (cyclic GMP-AMP synthase), that have been extensively implicated in human disease. In addition, Ventus intends to expand its research and development staff to support additional pipeline programs, providing potential opportunities for both partnerships and internal growth.
Ventus’ lead drug program, VENT-01, is a peripherally restricted small molecule inhibitor compound targeting NLRP3. NLRP3 is a key mediator of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1b and IL-18 and is a biologically validated target for many diseases where inflammation is the key driver of pathology. The company has a second drug program, which is a brain-penetrant NLRP3 inhibitor. Ventus’ third drug program targets cGAS, a key regulator of the cGAS/stimulator of interferon genes (STING) pathway.
“We believe Ventus’ proprietary computational drug discovery platform makes it quicker and more cost-effective to identify molecular targets from an almost infinite library of compounds,” commented John Cassidy, Ph.D., investor for SoftBank Investment Advisers. “We’re pleased to be partnering with the team as they move to clinical testing and unlock novel approaches to curing a wide range of diseases.”
Ventus’ ReSOLVE platform combines the company’s structural biology and protein science expertise with its proprietary computational chemistry capabilities to address the current limitations of small molecule drug discovery. Ventus leverages its ReSOLVE platform to discover and characterize previously unknown or poorly understood pockets on the surface of proteins, and identify small molecules that can bind to those pockets with optimal affinity. Without requiring existing chemical matter, ReSOLVE is designed to virtually screen libraries comprised of several billion compounds by using structural information about a protein to infer multiple protein conformational states and the solvation structure of each conformation.
“Ventus has distinguished itself as a leader in structure-based drug design, opening up new opportunities for reaching compelling drug targets,” said Josh Resnick, M.D., Managing Director at RA Capital Management. “We are excited to be working with the talented Ventus leadership and scientific teams as they continue to expand ReSOLVE and pursue therapeutic targets once thought to be undruggable with small molecules.”