A year after netting Takeda partnership, small molecule startup arms itself with some new cash
As small molecule companies continue to get serious cash from investors as well as backing from major pharma companies such as Eli Lilly, California-based BridGene Biosciences is looking to stay ahead of the pack.
The company announced Wednesday morning it pulled in a $38.5 million Series B, which will be going towards further developing its platform, dubbed IMTAC. The platform allows BridGene to screen small molecules against a target in live cells to discover possible drug candidates, mainly in undruggable targets, including for cancers. The company will also be looking to expand its small molecule library as well.
BridGene’s Series B comes only a year after the company made some serious moves. In 2021, not only did BridGene secure a $12 million Series A, but it also netted a deal with Japanese drug giant Takeda for them to use their platform, potentially worth up to $500 million. CEO Ping Cao said in an interview with Endpoints News that the two companies will announce the milestones on that project in the next few months.
Cao also said that in the time between the two raises, the company has been focused on building out its small molecule library and further optimizing the platform. The molecules that have been under investigation by BridGene have been useful in high-value targets, and the company is putting together a pipeline, Cao added. The company’s lead program is a TEAD inhibitor, and their pipeline has a few other undisclosed oncology programs.
The Series B will give BridGene a runway of two years, with execs hoping to have a clinical trial up and running by 2024.
The company is also looking to expand its headcount. Cao said he is looking to have around 40 employees by the middle of next year, up from the current total of 24.
While the small molecule space continues to be crowded, Cao said that his company’s platform is what is going to set them apart from the pack, saying it can screen covalent and non-covalent small molecules. Also, the company is not just targeting cystine residue, which only accounts for 3.3% of protein abundance, but also other amino acids to get better protein coverage.
Cao noted that with the market downturn and Covid-19 having an impact on meeting people for fundraising opportunities, the fact that it was able to get the deal across the line was huge for BridGene’s future.
Wednesday’s round was financed by the investment firms Lapam Capital, Junson Capital and Dyee Capital.