Wren Therapeutics (Wren), a biopharmaceutical company focused on drug discovery and development for protein misfolding diseases, today announces it has completed a Series A financing round. The company, formally founded in 2016, raised a total of £18 million from an international syndicate led by The Baupost Group with participation from LifeForce Capital and a number of high net worth individual investors.
Protein molecules form the machinery that carries out all of the executive functions in living systems. However, proteins sometimes malfunction and become misfolded, leading to a complex chain of molecular events that can ultimately cause long lasting damage in the patient and can lead to fatality. This group of medical disorders are known as protein misfolding diseases. Alzheimers, Parkinsons and motor neurone diseases are widely recognised protein misfolding diseases, but others include type-2 diabetes and many rare diseases amongst the more than 50 in total.
Samuel Cohen, Ph.D., one of Wrens founders, will become the permanent Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Cohen commented: Protein misfolding diseases are one of the most critical global healthcare challenges of the 21st century but are highly complex and challenging to address. Current strategies – in particular those driven by traditional drug discovery and biological approaches – have proven, at least to date, to be ineffective. Commenting further Dr. Cohen stated: Wrens new and unique approach is instead built on concepts from the physical sciences and focuses on the chemical kinetics of the protein misfolding process, creating a predictive and quantitatively driven platform that has the potential to radically advance drug discovery in this class of diseases.
The company has received a significant level of interest from external counterparties in its work to date and across many of the most important targets in drug discovery today.
The scientific founders include:
- Sir Chris Dobson FRS FMedSci, John Humphrey Plummer Professor of Chemical and Structural Biology at the University of Cambridge and Master of St Johns College, Cambridge, and will serve as Vice-Chairman of the Board of Wren
- Michele Vendruscolo, Professor of Biophysics at the University of Cambridge, and Chief Scientific Officer of Wren
- Tuomas Knowles, Professor of Chemistry and Physics at the University of Cambridge
- Sara Linse, Professor of Molecular Protein Science and Physical Chemistry at Lund University and Member of the Nobel Prize Committee for Chemistry
The company is based at the University of Cambridge, in the recently opened Chemistry of Health Centre, and plans on opening a satellite office in Boston, Massachusetts in the near term. Additionally, the company will announce its board of directors in the coming weeks.
Professor Sir Chris Dobson, one of the founders of Wren, added: “Wren is built on many years of highly collaborative, uniquely integrated, interdisciplinary research that has uncovered the key molecular mechanisms associated with protein misfolding diseases. I am hugely enthusiastic about our ability to make tangible progress against these diseases and change the course of life for millions of people around the world suffering from these debilitating and increasingly common medical disorders.
Wren (www.wrentherapeutics.com) is a spin-off company from the University of Cambridge (UK) and Lund University (Sweden), focused on drug discovery and development for protein misfolding diseases. Wren is advancing an entirely novel approach to address this class of diseases, based on more than a decade of research from its scientific founders focused on the chemical kinetics of the protein misfolding process. These advances make it possible to map, and selectively modulate, the complex and non-linear chemical kinetic networks associated with misfolding proteins and disease. Wren’s predictive, quantitative platform is built on concepts from the physical sciences and is a fundamental shift from the descriptive, qualitative methods of traditional biology, which have failed to successfully address these complex systems. Wren is using its unique approach to develop a broad pipeline of small molecule and antibody therapeutics, as well as diagnostics, spanning neurology, ophthalmology and metabolic diseases.