CAMBRIDGE, Mass – November 3, 2021 – Parthenon Therapeutics, a biotech company inventing a novel class of anti-cancer therapies that reprogram the tumor microenvironment, today announced a $65 million Series A financing led by Northpond Ventures, Pfizer Ventures, and Taiho Ventures. Additional investors included Section 32, Breakout Ventures, funds managed by Tekla Capital Management LLC, Creacion Ventures, KdT Ventures, Park West Asset Management LLC, and Alexandria Venture Investments. The company plans to use the funds to develop new therapies that target immune exclusion in tumors.
"Parthenon was established with the goal of developing first-in-class therapeutics that have the highest potential for improving the survival of the greatest number of people living with cancer," said Laurent Audoly, Ph.D., co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Parthenon Therapeutics. "We're focused on reprogramming the tumor microenvironment to attack the protective barrier that half of all human cancers build to repel immune attack, a novel approach, we believe, with the potential to create an entirely new class of anti-cancer therapies."
Validating this approach, Parthenon also announced today the publication of a manuscript in the peer-reviewed journal Nature describing the role of discoidin domain receptor 1 (DDR1) in stabilizing the tumor extracellular matrix (ECM), which supports exclusion of immune-cells from tumors. The manuscript — based on research conducted at the laboratories of Dr. Rong Li, Ross Professor of Basic Science Research in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine at the School of Medicine & Health Sciences at George Washington University, and Dr. Zhiqiang An, Professor of Molecular Medicine and recipient of the Robert A. Welch Distinguished University Chair in Chemistry at University of Texas Health — highlights that neutralizing DDR1, a multi-domain collagen receptor, disrupts the mechanical barrier around a tumor and promotes immune cell infiltration leading to tumoral destruction. This novel approach leverages unique molecular insights into the function of DDR1 to develop a "fit-for-purpose" therapeutic approach. The ability to perforate the tumor's protective barrier was demonstrated in multiple preclinical models of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). DDR1 expression in human tumors, including TNBC, and in a variety of other human tumors, correlates negatively with intratumoral abundance of anti-tumor T cells. The co-senior authors of these studies, Dr. Li and Dr. An, have also joined Parthenon's Scientific Advisory Board. The research supports Parthenon's program, PRTH-101, as a potential future therapy for a broad range of cancers.
"Our current understanding suggests different barriers underpin immune-cell exclusion: mechanical barriers such as stromal fibrosis and vascular access, functional barriers provided by soluble and metabolic factors, and dynamic barriers that impact immune cell function," said C. Glenn Begley, M.D., Ph.D., Parthenon's co-founder and Head of Drug Discovery, Parthenon Therapeutics. "Most recent advances in immune oncology and cell therapy have been in the dynamic barrier category. The results published today in Nature explore the potential of attacking specific pillars of these barriers, opening major new opportunities to treat cancer. Targeting DDR1 is one outcome of this methodical approach."
"We believe that our unique insights into the tumor stroma and microenvironment reveal multiple unprecedented points of therapeutic intervention to attack tumors and address therapeutic needs in a range of cancers," said Guy Travis Clifton, M.D., co-founder and Chief Medical Officer, Parthenon Therapeutics.
"The launch of Parthenon Therapeutics marks the debut of an important new approach to treating cancer based in part on the groundbreaking results published in Nature," said Olga Granaturova, MBA, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Parthenon Therapeutics. "With our incredibly talented and experienced team, pre-eminent collaborators and members of our Scientific Advisory Board, and ongoing support of our world-class investors, we look forward to fully exploring and rigorously testing the potential of this new approach to treating cancer."
About Parthenon Therapeutics
Parthenon Therapeutics is inventing a novel class of anti-cancer therapies that reprogram the tumor microenvironment (TME). The interplay between cancer cells and their surrounding microenvironment is relevant in drug development as many cancers use the TME to build barriers that shield immune system attack. One approach, PRTH-101, breaks these barriers to overcome recalcitrant cancers. Based on rigorous, groundbreaking research, we are designing a portfolio of drug candidates to treat the right patients at the right time. For more information visit parthenontx.com and LinkedIn.
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