Jim Broderick reels in a $100M Series B to explore a 'new and big' angle of immune regulation
When Jim Broderick launched Massachusetts-based Palleon Pharmaceuticals in 2015, he had an office in Cambridge’s Kendall Square, a bit of seed money, and a blank canvas.
He set out to innovate within a new space in immunology, and recruited scientific co-founders Carolyn Bertozzi, a Stanford professor, and Paul Crocker, a professor and the head of the cell signaling and immunology division at the University of Dundee, Scotland, to help him do it.
“When you start a new company in biotech, you need to be in something that’s new and big, and you need to have the world’s best scientists behind you,” Broderick, who was the first entrepreneur-in-residence at GSK’s venture arm SR One, told Endpoints News.
On Wednesday, the five-year-old company announced the completion of a $100 million Series B round to develop its pipeline of glyco-immunology therapies. Its lead program in oncology, an enzymatic sialoglycan degrader, is expected to hit the clinic next year.
“Glycan-mediated immune regulation presents an enormous opportunity for novel therapeutics to treat a range of diseases characterized by immune system dysfunction, including cancer and inflammatory diseases,” the CEO announced in a statement. Before Palleon, Broderick co-founded three other biotechs, including Ra Pharmaceuticals.
According to Broderick, it’s been known since 1959 that tumors have different glycan structures on their surfaces. “But nobody could figure out what the glycans were doing,” he said.
The answer, he added, was hiding in plain sight. “But nobody could see it, because we didn’t really have the lens to view the immune system in this way that we now do.” The tumors, he said, use evolved glycan structures to hide from immune system attacks. And so Palleon is working on using cell surface sugar molecules to modulate immune activity.
In addition to its EAGLE platform, which uses enzymatic sialoglycan degradation to overcome intractable biological redundancy and enable a pan-immune anti-tumor response, the company also has its HYDRA platform, which characterizes cancer patients by their tumor surface glycan profile to identify which patients are most likely to respond. Palleon says it’s developing a “broad pipeline” of candidates that target individual Siglecs and other glycan-sensing receptors, which may be useful against inflammatory diseases like autoimmunity and fibrosis.
The Series B, led by Matrix Capital Manaement, will help push that pipeline toward the clinic, Broderick said. Returning investors SR One, Pfizer Ventures, Vertex Ventures HC, Takeda Ventures, and AbbVie Ventures, and new investor Surveyor Capital also chipped in.
“It’s just a whole other angle of immune regulation… You couldn’t see it before… and now when you see it, there seems to be a lot of opportunity,” Broderick said.