Back when Bain’s Ricky Sun worked at Biogen, he gained a deep appreciation for the role of the classical complement pathway in neurodegeneration. And now he’s put that education to work, helping steer a syndicate of investors who are making a $75 million bet on Annexon’s work in the field.
“They know complement well,” says Sun, a partner at Bain Capital Life Sciences, which will add this venture in its “inflection capital” bucket of investments.
The C round will fund Annexon’s ongoing clinical work for its two lead drugs — ANX005, with a focus on autoimmune diseases and neurodegeneration, and ANX007, an intravitreal drug for ophthalmology. Both are in Phase Ib studies.
Surveyor Capital and Adage Capital Partners also jumped in alongside NEA, Blackstone Life Sciences, Novartis Venture Fund and Satter Investment Management. That lineup may add to expectations that Annexon is looking to an IPO, but CEO Doug Love won’t go past the usual niceties about optionality at this point.
Right now, Love tells me, the focus is on prepping for the mid-stage work that has to be done, with the new funding covering this next big clinical campaign. Exactly what they plan to test their drugs for has yet to be determined, the Elan vet added, but Huntington’s disease is still on the list.
The work at Annexon revolves around the early insights that the late Ben Barres, who finished his career at Stanford, made on the role of the protein C1q, which initiates the classical complement cascade. That protein accumulates at a rapid rate as people age, clustering around synapses and offering a key target for neurodegeneration.
True North had a C1q program before Bioverativ bought it up, where it’s continuing to be worked on. Curiously, though, while there’s been a significant amount of added academic research on C1q over the past year, there’s still relatively little biotech work ongoing in the field.
Love says he expects that to change, looking for some rivals to get in the game. In the meantime, he’s pushing fast into Phase II.
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