Startups, Venture

Cut loose from Biogen buyout option, Rodin preps for an early-stage shot at Alzheimer’s

After quietly scrapping a $485 million buyout option held by Biogen, Cambridge, MA-based Rodin Therapeutics has lined up a $27 million round to get its HDAC inhibitor in the clinic with a plan for taking their first clinical stab at Alzheimer’s — one of the toughest targets in biotech.

Adam Rosenberg

“We are planning to be in the clinic by the end of 2018,” CEO Adam Rosenberg tells me.

That’s a big step for a biotech which was launched several years ago by Atlas Venture and Proteros, looking to build on an epigenetics research strategy: restoring the expression of synaptic genes and countering the catastrophic destruction of neurons in order to improve cognition in a slate of tough neurological conditions by zeroing in on HDAC complexes.

Put simply, it’s a big step away from the dominant protein-focused work on amyloid beta and tau therapies — as well as the 5HT6 pathway — with a new approach that could help improve function as well as cognition in Alzheimer’s patients with major implications for Parkinson’s and other related neurological diseases. Early on Atlas arranged a buy-in from Biogen, which has some of the leading late-stage work now underway in Alzheimer’s, a field that has seen every pivotal effort go down in flames for the past 15 years.

Biogen remains an investor in the company, says Rosenberg, but dropped its buyout option after a “mutual agreement” driven by shifting priorities.

And that’s all I know about that.

Samantha Singer

Rodin uses a biotech model that Atlas still favors on many occasions. It is light on staff — there are 8 employees — but heavy on outsourcing as it drives ambitious science to the clinic and the first bite of real proof of principle data to back up their case.

Bruce Booth

Rodin has now raised $57 million as it winds up for the first clinical program, with Atlas partner and Rodin chairman Bruce Booth stepping up alongside GV (the old Google Ventures), Hatteras Venture Partners, Remeditex Ventures, and Third Point Ventures.

John Creecy (Remeditex), Jason Hong (Third Point) and Clay Thorp (Hatteras) are hopping on to its board of directors, joining Kees Been, Booth, Rosenberg and Samantha Singer.

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