Nine Square Therapeutics, a San Francisco, CA-based developer of novel therapies for movement disorders, is launching with $50m in committed Series A funding.
Apple Tree Partners (ATP), a life sciences venture firm, made the investment. ATP founder and managing partner Seth Harrison, M.D., will chair the new company’s board. Michael Ehlers, M.D., Ph.D., ATP venture partner and chief scientific officer, will also serve as a director on the Nine Square Therapeutics board.
The new company will discover new small-molecule therapeutics for degenerative movement disorders including Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), as well as non-degenerative disorders such as essential tremor and dyskinesias, by integrating computational chemistry, biophysics and computational biology into machine-learning-enabled cell profiling platforms for target identification, chemical optimization and patient stratification. The company grew from a collaboration between ATP and scientists at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).
The company’s founders are:
– Matthew Jacobson, Ph.D., professor and chair of the UCSF Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, a recognized authority in computer-aided drug design and computational structural biology who has founded several well-known life sciences companies including Global Blood Therapeutics, Circle Pharma, Relay and Cedilla. Jacobson will serve on the Nine Square Therapeutics board.
– Steven Altschuler, Ph.D., and Lani Wu, Ph.D., professors in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at UCSF, leaders in the fields of single-cell analysis and quantitative imaging. They combine biology, machine learning and mathematics to develop highly scalable platforms for novel biological target discovery and pathway interrogation. A board-observer position at Nine Square Therapeutics will be occupied by either Wu or Altschuler.
– Spiros Liras, Ph.D., an ATP venture partner who is a longtime collaborator with Professors Jacobson, Altschuler and Wu and an adjunct professor in UCSF’s Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Liras, who has several decades of experience leading scientific innovation and discovery at biopharmaceutical companies including Biogen and Pfizer, will serve as interim CEO of Nine Square Therapeutics and will be a director on the new company’s board.