Frequency follows Astellas pact with $62M round to bankroll PhII of lead regenerative drug
A few days ago Frequency Therapeutics got some high profile endorsement on its small molecule strategy for regenerative medicine, when Astellas offered $80 million upfront to partner on their lead drug. As it turns out, the Japanese pharma wasn’t the only one intrigued by the platform and upcoming Phase II study of FX-322.
Perceptive Advisors has jumped in to lead a $62 million Series C, which also drew Deerfield Management, RTW Investments and Mizuho Securities Principal Investment. Polaris, Taiwania, Axil and CoBro also doubled down on their existing bet.
Considerably larger than previous rounds — which totaled $147 million — the new financing will fund an important trial to tease out FX-322’s effects on sensorineural hearing loss, having recently wrapped a safety and tolerability test, according to CEO David Lucchino.
“In the future, we may evaluate our approach in other hearing indications and we continue to study a broad array of disease areas where our platform may have applications,” the company said.
First developed by MIT’s Bob Langer and Jeff Karp, Frequency’s platform centers on dispatching small molecule drugs to activate progenitor cells, pushing them to differentiate into target cells (hair cells in the inner ear in the case of FX-322). By tinkering with local cells that are pre-programmed to serve the purpose, the biotech believes it can offer a safer and more efficacious alternative to stem cell therapies.
That can lead to some ambitious new targets, including diseases of the muscle, gastrointestinal tract, skin and bone. Frequency is also looking to bring a discovery program focused on remyelination in multiple sclerosis into the clinic.
He’s staying mum about the exact design of the upcoming hearing loss trial for now. But if the scant details from the Phase I/II readout were any hint, the team led by CMO Bill Chin could be looking for more signs that the drug can improve audiometry and word scores.
Social image: Small molecules triggering progenitor cells to differentiate. Frequency via YouTube