As a former business development guy at Cubist, Praveen Tipirneni got to know the routine about the due diligence work BD teams are known for during a negotiation.
“People poke holes,” he says. It could be about an assay, something that was being hyped beyond reality or a program that was presented at a certain stage which may not quite be there yet.
But you have to find those holes.
Now that he’s on the CEO side of the bargaining table, though, one of only two people on Morphic Therapeutic’s 37-member team not devoted entirely to research, he’s more than a little pleased that the partners he’s talking with haven’t been balking over any holes.
“Not one diligence issue has come up,” he says proudly. And that is a “one in a million” situation.
He sees that as perhaps the best validation for his work running a company he’s invested his own money in.
This time around, Tipirneni is working with a nascent pipeline of therapies that revolve around the work of integrins, proteins that can be found on the surface of cells that can cause serious harm when they run amuck.
Two years after grabbing a $51.5 million launch round to start taking lab work created at Tim Springer’s lab at Harvard and using that to build a pipeline, the Waltham, MA-based biotech has two programs — including a fibrosis drug that he’s now looking to collaborate on — that are being positioned for the clinic. And Tipirneni has a fresh $80 million round designed to get him there and beyond — to proof of concept data.
Morphic has kept its head low while it’s been working on the science.
“It is unique for each particular integrin,” says the CEO about what they’ve learned. “The science has been elucidated.” That also has revealed a range of programs they can pick from, mining diseases in what he sees as a “really rich area for discovery.”
The goal now is to position the first clinical program to get underway next year, with an IND following on its heels. And then they can continue to build the pipeline with in-house as well as partnered therapies.
Omega Funds and Novo Holdings led this latest round, joint a roster of existing investors that represents a cross section of corporate funds, including new investors Invus and EcoR1 Capital.
Image: Praveen Tipirneni. MORPHIC
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