Entact Bio, the company pioneering the development of precision medicines that enhance the function of key proteins, today announced it has raised $81 million in Series A financing to advance its proprietary Encompass™ platform for developing enhancement-targeting chimeric (ENTAC™) molecules.
The round was co-led by Qiming Venture Partners USA and venBio Partners, with participation by new investors Abingworth, Brandon Capital, Janus Henderson Investors, Logos Capital, Surveyor Capital (a Citadel company), and WEHI (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research), and founding investors 4BIO Capital and Arkin Bio Ventures.
“Our aim is to provide new options for patients by developing precision medicines that enhance the function of beneficial proteins rather than eliminating or blocking proteins that contribute to disease,” said Victoria Richon, CEO of Entact Bio. “To transform this vision into reality, we have built Encompass, a proprietary platform for creating therapeutics that harness the cell’s mechanism for enhancing protein function. These ENTAC medicines will make an important difference for patients whose needs aren’t adequately met by today’s treatments.”
Richon, a scientifically trained executive with 20 years of experience and expertise in company and team building, has a track record of discovering and developing novel therapies. Most recently, as founding president and CEO of Ribon Therapeutics, she led teams to develop multiple first-in-class drugs with novel mechanisms of action from inception to clinical testing.
With broad utility across disease types, ENTACs have significant potential to expand the druggable space and address unmet medical needs. Many diseases occur when there is a functional problem with a beneficial protein that is critical to cell health. These illnesses are challenging to treat with conventional small molecules, which are typically designed to inhibit proteins that are contributing to disease rather than to enhance the function of beneficial proteins.
ENTACs enhance protein function by harnessing the power of enzymes called deubiquitinases, or DUBs, which are key regulators of proteins in the cell. Acting as molecular matchmakers, ENTACs bring together beneficial target proteins with DUBs. The DUBs, in turn, selectively shorten or remove chains of a molecule called ubiquitin that are attached to the target protein. Ubiquitin plays a broad role in protein function, so tailored removal of ubiquitin can enhance the function of the target protein. Whether the target protein is in short supply, is in the wrong place within the cell, or has suboptimal activity, an ENTAC can be engineered to recruit a DUB to fix the problem. By introducing each target to the right DUB, ENTACs enhance the function of these crucial proteins, ultimately restoring the cell’s health.
Entact’s proprietary end-to-end Encompass platform integrates powerful biological, chemical, and computational tools to efficiently identify disease targets amenable to ENTAC intervention, select an optimal DUB to address the specific target, and create specific ENTACs optimized to each specific target-DUB pair.
The company’s founders bring together expertise in the varied areas collectively required to design ENTACs:
“DUBs are fascinating molecules that control a number of critical protein functions,” said Buhrlage. “I’m thrilled by the opportunity to put our emerging understanding of DUBs to work in creating ENTACs. We are eager to see this new class of drugs expand our ability to treat patients.”
“While ubiquitin is commonly thought of as a molecule that directs proteins to the cellular garbage bin, we now know that ubiquitin also has the ability to change protein function including activation, localization, and interaction through exquisite regulation by DUBs and other enzymes,” said Komander. “It’s exciting to be part of the effort to harness this powerful cellular mechanism to develop important new medicines.”
“We are proud to support Entact Bio’s mission of leveraging nature’s key protein regulatory mechanism to address hard-to-treat diseases,” said Colin Walsh, partner at Qiming Venture Partners. “The company’s founding scientific team and experienced management are uniquely positioned to rapidly develop and advance a pipeline of ENTACs for diseases with high unmet medical need.”
Richard Gaster, managing partner at venBio Partners, added: “By developing ENTACs as a novel modality to enhance the function of beneficial proteins, we will be able to expand our treatment landscape beyond traditional approaches and deliver meaningful new therapies for patients.”
About Entact Bio
Entact Bio is a preclinical stage biotechnology company developing a new class of drugs that enhance the function of beneficial proteins. Launched by a founding team deeply rooted in deubiquitinase (DUB) biochemistry, chemical biology, disease biology, and small-molecule drug development, Entact has designed its proprietary Encompass™ platform to create enhancement-targeting chimeric (ENTAC™) medicines. ENTACs harness the ability of DUBs to regulate proteins. By leveraging this natural cellular mechanism to enhance protein function, Entact is expanding the universe of treatable diseases.
Thermal for Entact