Vertex Ventures joins $47.6m Series A round in US-based Palleon Pharma

Vertex Ventures. Photographer: Sam Kang Li/Bloomberg

Temasek’s venture capital arm Vertex Ventures has participated in a $47.6 million Series A financing round in Palleon Pharmaceuticals, a US-based biotechnology firm that focuses on developing glycoimmune checkpoint inhibitors to treat cancer.

This round was also backed by several biotech venture capital firms including SR One, Pfizer Ventures, Takeda Ventures, and AbbVie Ventures, according to the company’s announcement on Wednesday.

According to the announcement, it will use the Series A funding to establish and advance a first-in-class pipeline of drug candidates targeting Glycoimmune Checkpoints – receptors on immune cells that normally distinguish “self” versus “non-self” but get exploited in cancer to create immunosuppression that allows tumours to thrive.

“The most meaningful breakthroughs often occur at the intersection of diverse and seemingly unrelated scientific disciplines,” said Palleon founder and CEO Jim Broderick. “Palleon was spawned by bringing together new findings in glycoscience and human immunology, which resulted in unexpected implications for oncology. The convergence of these two fields has enabled us to develop a novel class of medicines that could have a significant impact on the lives of cancer patients.”

Palleon was originally incubated in the Cambridge offices of GSK’s venture arm SR One, where Broderick served as the firm’s first Entrepreneur-in-Residence, working closely with SR One president Jens Eckstein. He has also been involved in biotech startups including his role as chairman and co-founder at Ra Pharmaceuticals.

The company was co-founded by Carolyn Bertozzi, professor of chemistry at Stanford University and an investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Insitute, and Paul Crocker, professor of glycoimmunology and head of the Division of Cell Signalling and Immunology at University of Dundee.

The company also has exclusive licenses to the intellectual property of discoveries made by Bertozzi and Crocker.

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