The idea that a fresh source of regenerative cells could repair a damaged heart has driven a variety of largely unsuccessful research efforts aimed at helping patients who have suffered from heart attacks and strokes. But now The Column Group is bankrolling a $50 million Series A for an upstart biotech that hopes to do just that.
The biotech is called Tenaya Therapeutics, the brainchild in part of Deepak Srivastava, MD, director of the San Francisco-based Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease and a co-founder of the new company.
Srivastava plans to build on Gladstone’s work in the field of cellular reprogramming to hone in on possible cures for heart failure. The Tenaya team will look at regenerating heart muscle cells and also explore stem cell technology — which has been disappointing to date.
“Right now, the only possible cure for heart failure is a heart transplant,” says Srivastava. “We hope that this new venture will bring us closer to a more scalable cure.”
It won’t come easy and it won’t come cheap. Cardio drugs tend to be few and far between because of the extraordinarily high on safety and efficacy that exists for any therapies intended for huge patient populations like this.
David Goeddel, the managing partner at The Column Group, is stepping in as chairman to help keep watch over his investment. Goeddel is also on the board of BioFulcrum, which Gladstone set up to help foster spinouts like Tenaya.
Aside from Srivastava, the new company has a long lineup of scientific mentors: Gladstone Investigators Benoit Bruneau, PhD, Bruce Conklin, MD, Sheng Ding, PhD, and Saptarsi Haldar, MD, as well as Eric Olson, PhD, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Other Gladstone scientists will serve as scientific partners (Katherine Pollard, PhD, Todd McDevitt, PhD, Nevan Krogan, PhD) or founding employees of the company, including Kathy Ivey, PhD, former director of the Gladstone Stem Cell Core and the new director of research operations at Tenaya.
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