Vividion Therapeutics has technology that finds ways to hit promising disease targets that were previously deemed “undruggable.” Now it has $135 million that might allow it to find something else: a public stock listing.
The Series C round of financing announced Wednesday included so-called crossover investors, firms that invest in both public and private companies. Securing crossover investment is one of the steps companies take as they prepare for an IPO.
Preclinical-stage Vividion is developing small molecule drugs for indications in oncology and immunology. The majority of FDA-approved drugs work by binding to a protein. For that to happen, a protein must have a pocket where a small molecule drug can connect. In some cases, the disease-causing proteins are well known to drug hunters, but the binding pockets are nowhere to be found. These proteins are considered undruggable.
Vividion finds pockets on proteins of interest. The San Diego-based biotech accomplishes this with technology that analyzes part of the proteome, the set of proteins produced by cells, tissues, and organs. The first crop of wholly owned Vividion drug candidates include programs that target the KEAP1-NRF2 axis, an antioxidant signaling pathway that has been studied for its role in cancer and inflammation.
The company also has alliances with big pharmaceutical companies. A partnership with Bristol Myers Squibb is developing a drug for a “highly pursued yet unsolved transcription factor for the treatment of both oncology and immunology indications.” And last year, Vividion teamed up with Roche in a drug discovery pact focused on targeted protein degradation.
The specific diseases that Vividion is pursuing on its own and with its partners are still under wraps, but the company is making progress on both fronts. In a prepared statement, CEO Jeffrey Hatfield said his company intends to advance into clinical testing next year.
The Vividion technology stems from the research of Benjamin Cravatt, a professor of chemical physiology at The Scripps Research Institute. Vividion spun out of Scripps, emerging from stealth in 2017 with $50 million in Series A financing.
Vividion’s latest financing was led by new investors Logos Capital and Boxer Capital of Tavistock Group.
“We believe this company is building a remarkable early pipeline of precision oncology and immunology therapies that can have transformative value for patients in traditionally unserved or vastly underserved disease indications,” Boxer CEO Aaron Davis said in a prepared statement.
Other new investors included SoftBank Investment Advisers, Avoro Capital Advisors, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, RA Capital Management, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Surveyor Capital, Woodline Partners, Acuta Capital and Driehaus Capital Management. Those investors were joined by Vividion’s earlier investors ARCH Venture Partners, BVF Partners L.P., Casdin Capital, Mubadala Capital, Nextech Invest and Versant Ventures.