University of Oxford spinoff nets a nine-figure Series B, but it won't beeline toward the clinic
Four years after completing a Series A, an Oxford spinout has returned to the venture well and garnered interest for how its technology is being applied to drug discovery.
OMass Therapeutics has raised $100 million in a Series B round with participants that include GV, Northpond Ventures and Sanofi Ventures. Syncona, Oxford Science Enterprises and the University of Oxford, who were a part of the Series A round, also participated this time around.
CEO Ros Deegan told Endpoints News the new funding came in a relatively quick turnaround, especially in the current market climate.
According to Deegan, this round will be used to advance OMass’s pipeline portfolio toward clinical trials. This includes the development of drugs for congenital adrenal hyperplasia, inflammatory diseases, and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as two earlier-stage programs targeting solute carriers.
But Deegan isn’t putting a timeline on anything yet, noting only that she wants to push to the clinical stage by the time OMass is ready for the next round of financing — whenever that might come.
“So we’ve not set a timeline where we need more financing in years,” she said. “What we are able to say is that we expect to be in a clinical-stage when we need to raise more money. And also because business development may well end up being part of our operations during that time period too, we will approach the next funding round at the right time as appropriate.”
The company utilizes mass spectrometry, as well as custom chemistry and other novel techniques, for its proprietary drug discovery platform called OdyssION. Mass spectrometers on their own usually identify unknown compounds, quantify them and determine the structure and chemical properties of molecules.
In civilian usage, it can be used to identify explosives and other prohibited items at security checkpoints. But OMass wants to measure the mass of individual molecules to advance its drug development capabilities, claiming they can do so much more accurately than other methods.
“Our longer-term strategy is to build a company that can take its products to market in rare diseases and specialty immunology indications,” Deegan said. “But we will look to do partnerships for assets in broad immunology indications and also strategic discovery collaborations that allow us to extend the reach of the technology platform.”
For the type of drug discovery the company is embarking on, it typically will take a couple of years for drug development, with preclinical development taking just over a year. OMass has both programs in lead optimization and others that will enter lead optimization throughout the next couple of years.
Deegan also noted that despite the market not being the most accommodating to biotechs at the moment, she hopes it won’t have an impact on the company or its current strategy.
“We’re now well-financed so we set out to raise less than $100 million when we first set out, but there was high interest because of the capabilities (of the technology),” she said. “Now that we’ve raised that capital, it gives us an ability to really focus on the pipeline, rather than be seeking additional capital at this time, so it puts us in a great position.”
The technology was developed by professor Dame Carol Robinson, the first female professor of chemistry at the University of Oxford. Her pioneering research in the field led to her creating the company in 2016 along with her former students.
OMass’ Series A round came back in 2018, with an add-on to that round occurring in 2020. That round saw the company raise $50.9 million to get its lead program into preclinical development.