Investment from a Syndicate Including Playground Global and Better Ventures will Enable Exploration of Lasso Peptides as an Untapped Source of New Medicines
Lassogen, a company dedicated to developing lasso peptides as an entirely new therapeutic modality, today announced that it has raised $4.5 million in an oversubscribed seed round of funding led by Playground Global with participation from Better Ventures, First In Ventures, Tsingyuan Ventures, and additional investors. Combined with pre-seed funding in 2019, Lassogen has raised investment capital totaling $5.1 million to date. The seed investment proceeds will enable the company to achieve key results that demonstrate the utility and promise of lasso peptides for treating serious human diseases such as cancer, autoimmunity, pain, and inflammation.
Lassogen is developing a new class of peptide therapeutics that combine the strengths of antibodies and small molecule drugs while overcoming many of their limitations. Lasso peptides are folded into a unique lariat structure which renders them extraordinarily stable to degradation by proteases, low pH, or high temperatures and provides a three-dimensional array of amino acid side chains to engage targets with high affinity and selectivity. Naturally occurring lasso peptides are diverse in terms of size, shape, and composition, thus offering highly tunable and modular scaffolds for designing novel therapeutics with optimized properties.
Lassogen was founded by CEO Mark Burk, Ph.D., who was previously CEO and founder of Snap Bio, along with co-founder Kent Boles, Ph.D., and academic co-founders and advisors Douglas Mitchell, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Tracy Handel, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmaceutical Science at University of California San Diego.
"Lasso peptides represent a rare and powerful new therapeutic modality that could enable breakthrough treatments for challenging diseases by modulation of disease targets that are difficult for antibodies and small molecules. We are benefitting from a confluence of technology advances and insights that revealed the unexpected high prevalence and extreme diversity of lasso peptides produced by bacteria," says co-founder and CEO Mark Burk. "By taking cues from nature, we are now in a position to leverage the modern tools of in silico modeling and synthetic biology, including molecular evolution, to design and rapidly advance optimized lasso peptides into development against a range of high value targets."
"We see an opportunity for Lassogen to create an entirely new class of programmable medicines to treat challenging disease targets," said Peter Barrett, General Partner at Playground Global. "We are delighted to be a part of their journey toward a healthier future."
Phyllis Whiteley, Ph.D., Venture Partner at Playground Global, will join Lassogen’s board of directors. "The majority of therapeutics are dominated by antibodies and small molecules, yet many important diseases are resistant to those treatments," said Whiteley. "The Lassogen team, including serial entrepreneur and operator Mark Burk as well as highly respected academics and technologists, is uniquely positioned to produce and program lasso peptides to treat challenging diseases."
"We’re thrilled to be supporting the important and innovative work that Lassogen is doing, which has the potential to usher in a new era of success against debilitating diseases such as cancer," says Wes Selke, Managing Director at Better Ventures. "Mark and his team have the right backgrounds to make this happen and are exactly the kind of mission-driven founders we seek to back."
Lassogen is harnessing the untapped power of lasso peptides as a novel modality to treat some of the world’s most challenging diseases. Founded in 2019 by leading figures in biotechnology, drug development, and academia, the company is headquartered in the biotech hub of San Diego. Visit Lassogen.com for more information.
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