Obsidian Therapeutics, Inc., a Cambridge, MA-based biotechnology company dedicated to the development of next-generation cell and gene therapies with pharmacologic operating systems, completed a $49.5m Series A financing.
The round was led by GV, with participation from Atlas Venture, as well as Takeda Ventures Inc., Vertex Ventures HC, Amgen Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments, and ShangPharma Investment Group.
The company intends to use the funds to further build its technology platform and advance its lead programs toward clinical development.
Founded in 2015 by Atlas Venture, who exclusively funded the company’s operations through mid-2017, and led by newly named CEO Michael Gilman, Ph.D., Obsidian has developed a suite of platform technologies that allow for control of protein activity in cells, thereby enabling tunable cell and gene therapies.
The system is composed of two parts – a synthetic biological cassette that is installed in the gene vector and a small-molecule drug that controls the activity of the cassette. Obsidian’s cassettes are controllable with readily-available, non-immunosuppressive, FDA-approved small-molecule medicines.
Initial areas of drug development include regulated cytokine cassettes for inclusion in CAR-T products to enhance anti-tumor activity and cellular persistence, as well as regulated CAR for enhancement of safety and anti-tumor efficacy. In these areas of focus, the use of Destabilizing Domain (DD) technology enables control of key functions to improve safety and efficacy in ways that are not possible with existing CAR-T treatments.
Future applications of the DD platform will advance novel cell and gene therapy approaches for cancer and other diseases.
The scientific founder of the company is Professor Thomas Wandless, a researcher in chemical and systems biology.
Obsidian has licensed technology relating to DDs from Stanford University and has recently launched a research collaboration with Crystal Mackall, M.D., of the Stanford School of Medicine, focusing on the use of DDs to regulate CAR activity in CAR-T products.
The team also includes:
– Tariq Kassum, M.D., Senior Vice President, Head of Business Operations, and company cofounder, former leadership roles at Takeda and Millennium Pharmaceuticals
– Steve Shamah, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Head of Research, former leadership roles at Juno Therapeutics and X-Body Biosciences
– Vipin Suri, Ph.D., Vice President, Head of Discovery, and company cofounder, former roles at Raze Therapeutics and GSK
– Celeste Richardson, Ph.D., Vice President, Cell Therapy, former roles at Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research