Gates and Chinese private equity group cheer on Lyndra’s PhII plans with $55M raise

With backing from the Gates Foundation and some new Chinese private equity cash, Watertown, MA-based Lyndra has just packaged together a $55 million funding round to back their expanded quest to kill the daily pill approach to meds.

Like dozens of companies before it, Lyndra got started with some ideas hatched in the lab of MIT’s Bob Langer — and seed money from Polaris. Now the biotech says that after its first small human proof-of-concept study wrapped last fall, they’re ready to move into Phase II with their first program focused on a reformulated schizophrenia therapy designed to replace a daily regimen with a long acting treatment with a much lower burden on pill count.

That first study used a reformulated version for memantine hydrochloride for their weekly, extended dose.

Payers in the US particularly have repeatedly demonstrated their indifference to dosing in preference for pricing discounts, but there are some obvious diseases like schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s — with older, symptomatic drugs on the market — where less is much more. And that’s where Lyndra plans to get started.

The technology would be applicable in a variety of areas, Langer tells me in an email exchange. It would work when you need a “more consistent PK profile, drug combinations, and all applications where steady state linear release will drive superior outcomes, or where access is limited, or where compliance is a particular issue.”

Transplant immunosuppression, malaria, opioid use disorder and contraception are all on the menu.

What’s the big idea here? Langer’s reply:

At MIT (with funding from the Gates Foundation) we published a paper in Science Translational Medicine in November 2016 showing our development of a new dosage form with both unique material properties and a unique shape that had superior PK by staying resident in the stomach for whatever time period we programmed it to do so (eg, a week, a month) and we showed it was safe and effective in animals.

Polaris led the new round, as it did the $23 million A round, with a group of new investors that included: China’s Hopu Investments, Gilead Sciences $GILD, Invus, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Orient Life.

Image: Bob Langer. QE PRIZE

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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