Pliant Therapeutics, Inc., a newly formed Redwood City, California-based company that aims to discover and develop new therapies to treat the pathologic process of fibrotic disorders, raised $45m in Series A financing.
The round was led by Third Rock Ventures, LLC.
Led by chief executive officer Bernard Coulie, M.D., Ph.D., David Morgans, Ph.D., vice president of drug discovery and early development, Craig Muir, interim chief technology officer and partner at Third Rock Ventures, and Richard Gaster, M.D., Ph.D., director of translational medicine, Pliant is an early-stage biotechnology company using the therapeutic capabilities of integrin biology and TGF-β signaling to develop treatments for fibrotic diseases. By leveraging its product engine, which has the potential to address the needs of many patients by targeting fibrosis in a variety of organs and conditions, including the lungs (IPF), liver (NASH and cirrhosis), kidney (renal fibrosis), skin (scleroderma), heart (cardiac fibrosis) and the gastrointestinal tract (Crohn’s disease), the company aims to prevent or even reverse fibrosis, restoring organ function and to build a patient registry for certain areas of fibrotic disease to both increase understanding of natural disease progression and fuel biomarker discovery for efficient clinical trial design.
Pliant is entering the fibrosis space initially targeting idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a lethal and rare disease that currently affects approximately 200,000 people in the U.S., resulting in 40,000 deaths per year.
Founders of the company are University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) researchers, including:
– Dean Sheppard, M.D., professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Allergy and Sleep at UCSF
– Bill DeGrado, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at UCSF
– Hal Chapman, M.D., professor of medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Allergy and Sleep at UCSF, and
– Bradley Backes, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Medicine at UCSF
Perry Karsen will serve as chairman of the board of directors alongside Third Rock Ventures partner Neil Exter and venture partner Charles Homcy, M.D.