Casma Therapeutics, Inc., a Cambridge, MA-based biotechnology company harnessing the natural cellular process of autophagy to design new medicines, raised $58.5m in Series A funding.
Third Rock Ventures made the investment.
Launched in 2018 by Keith Dionne, Ph.D., chief executive officer, Frank Gentile, interim COO, Bob Tepper, interim CSO, Cary Pfeffer, interim CBO, Casma Therapeutics leverages natural cellular process of autophagy to open new target areas for drug discovery and development. The company uses several approaches to intervene at strategic points throughout the autophagy system to improve the cellular process of clearing out unwanted proteins, organelles and invading pathogens and to arrest or reverse the progression of lysosomal storage disorders, muscle disorders, inflammatory disorders and neurodegeneration, among other indications.
Casma’s scientific founders include:
– Andrea Ballabio, M.D., Ph.D., the founder and director of the Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine (TIGEM) of Pozzuoli and a leader in the field of transcriptional regulation of lysosomal biogenesis and autophagy.
– James Hurley, Ph.D., the Judy C. Webb Chair and professor of biochemistry, biophysics and structural biology at the University of California at Berkeley.
– Beth Levine, M.D., director of the Center for Autophagy Research and the Charles Cameron Sprague Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
– Herbert “Skip” Virgin, M.D., Ph.D., currently executive vice president for research and chief scientific officer at Vir Biotechnology and previously served as the Edward Mallinckrodt Professor and chair of the department of pathology and immunology at the Washington University School of Medicine.
Dr. Dionne, Dr. Gentile, Dr. Tepper and Dr. Pfeffer also sit on Casma’s board of directors.