David de Graaf now has his $28.5M launch round in place, building a coenzyme A platform in his latest startup
Longtime biotech exec David de Graaf has the cash he needs to set up the preclinical foundation for his coenzyme A metabolism company Comet. A few high-profile investors joined the venture syndicate to supply Comet with $28.5 million in launch money — enough to get it two years into the platform-building game, within knocking distance of the clinic.
Canaan jumped in alongside existing investor Sofinnova Partners to co-lead the round, with participation by existing investor INKEF Capital and new investor BioInnovation Capital.
By next year Comet will have 3 or 4 compounds under the microscope, with plans to take 1 of those into an IND submission for 2021, closing in on the clinic. In the meantime, says the Syntimmune vet, they’ll be looking at partnering opportunities to help beef up their bank account and grow the fledgling pipeline.
Discovered 70 years ago, every cell requires coenzyme A to break down fats and sugars to create energy. And defects in the pathway are linked to a plethora of diseases, with applications in neurology, metabolic diseases and cancer.
Comet has a team of 8 in place in their new Kendall Square lab, with plans to grow to 20 by the end of next year, tapping in on local talent as they concentrate their forces on the metabolites linked to coenzyme A. “The metabolites,” says de Graaf, “are incredibly important.”
“The company is operating in a virtual white space, yet has built a broad patent portfolio around its core technology,” says chairman Peter Van Vlasselaer, who has a string of startups to his credit, including Armo. “We see exciting opportunities in the areas of immuno-metabolism and neuro-metabolism.”
The team includes chief scientific officer Art Taveras and co-founder and chief technology officer Enej Kuscer, who’s worked in this field for years.
There’s at least one other coenzyme A company out there, under the wing of BridgeBio in San Francisco. But de Graaf appears less interested in the rare disease approach to the field than the broader platform that can be built around this target. And that leaves plenty of targets of opportunity.