Lycia Therapeutics, Inc., a San Francisco Bay Area, CA-based biotechnology company, exited from stealth mode with a $50m funding.
The founding investor was Versant Ventures.
The company intends to use the funds to develop lysosomal targeting chimeras, or LYTACs, as therapeutics for a broad set of currently intractable cell surface targets.
Led by CEO Aetna Wun Trombley, Ph.D., Lycia Therapeutics is a biotechnology company using its lysosomal targeting chimeras (LYTACs) platform to discover and develop first-in-class therapeutics that degrade extracellular and membrane-bound proteins that drive a range of difficult-to-treat diseases, including cancers and autoimmune conditions.
The company was established in 2019 within founding investor Versant Ventures’ San Diego-based Inception Discovery Engine in collaboration with academic founder Carolyn Bertozzi, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and HHMI investigator at Stanford University.
In a 2019 publication, Dr. Bertozzi’s team at Stanford demonstrated that a cation-independent receptor called CI-M6PR could be exploited to capture and drag extracellular proteins into cells, trafficking them to the lysosome for destruction. In addition to CI-M6PR, Lycia has now extended this approach and leveraged other tissue-specific internalizing receptor systems to further expand the technology’s therapeutic potential.
The company plans to build out its foundational LYTAC platform, develop an internal pipeline, and will also consider discovery-stage partnerships to fully exploit the potential of this novel approach.
The team will work alongside experienced entrepreneurs and leading scientists who have made important contributions in the field and bring relevant experience to the company.
- Carolyn Bertozzi, Ph.D., who chairs Lycia’s Scientific Advisory Board, is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Chemical & Systems Biology and Radiology at Stanford University, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Bertozzi’s research interests span the disciplines of chemistry and biology with an emphasis on studies of cell surface glycosylation pertinent to disease states. She is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has been awarded the Lemelson-MIT Prize, the Heinrich Wieland Prize, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, among many others.
- Randy Schekman, Ph.D., is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California at Berkeley. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2013.
- Mark M. Davis, Ph.D. is the Director of the Stanford Institute for Immunology, Transplantation and Infection (ITI), a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at Stanford University. He received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Davis is known for identifying many of the T-cell receptor genes, which are responsible for the ability of these cells to recognize a diverse repertoire of antigens. His current research focuses on obtaining a systems level understanding of the human immune system.
- Brian Druker, M.D., is Professor of Medicine and Director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute and the JELD-WEN Chair of Leukemia Research. His research focuses on activated tyrosine kinases with an emphasis on their role in cancer. His work resulted in Gleevec, the first drug to target the molecular defect of a cancer while leaving healthy cells unharmed. He has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Warren Alpert Prize from Harvard Medical School, the Lasker-DeBakey Award for Clinical Medical Research, the Japan Prize in Healthcare and Medical Technology, and most recently, the 2018 Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science.
- Alanna Schepartz, Ph.D., is the T.Z. and Irmgard Chu Distinguished Chair in Chemistry and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California at Berkeley. Her research spans the fields of chemical and synthetic biology. A primary focus is to uncover the chemistry that drives complex cellular processes and apply this knowledge to design or discover molecules – large and small – that possess unique or useful properties.
- Monther Abu-Remaileh, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University. His lab is focused on identifying novel pathways that enable cellular and organismal adaptation to metabolic stress and changes in environmental conditions, as well as how these pathways go awry in human diseases such as cancer, neurodegeneration and metabolic syndrome, in order to engineer new therapeutic modalities.