Belharra Therapeutics Debuts With $130 Million in Funding

SAN MATEO, Calif. & SAN DIEGO–(Business enterprise WIRE)–Belharra Therapeutics, Inc. these days emerged from stealth method with a novel photoaffinity-based mostly chemoproteomics system able of pinpointing non-covalent, compact molecule drug candidates for any protein. The enterprise has secured $130 million in money, such as $50 million in Collection A funding from founding trader Versant Ventures and a multi-calendar year collaboration with Genentech, a member of the Roche Team, that will supply $80 million in upfront cash, also announced these days. Belharra is the most the latest company to emerge from Versant’s Inception Discovery Engine.

Belharra’s integrated chemoproteomic-dependent drug discovery motor addresses the constraints of common screening strategies by means of a proprietary library of photoaffinity-based chemical probes that investigate protein-ligand interactions in the native atmosphere of the cell. The system makes use of photoaffinity-primarily based labeling to “trap” these special non-covalent protein-ligand interactions. Coupled with its novel chemoproteomics system and informatics abilities, Belharra’s system identifies probe-protein interactions on a international scale, revealing novel druggable pockets throughout a total array of mechanisms, protein lessons and cell kinds.

Whilst very first-technology platforms shown the energy of chemoproteomics to illuminate new chemical place, they required distinct nucleophilic amino acid residues, these as cysteine, be existing on a protein of fascination and applied probe libraries composed solely of electrophilic drug fragments. These are limiting because only a portion of drug targets have ligandable cysteines and irreversible ligands normally have sophisticated growth paths. The Belharra photoaffinity platform is not reliant on any certain amino acid for labeling, enabling profiling of the overall proteome. Photochemistry is applied to determine probe-protein interactions and given that the underlying mode of the Belharra platform’s ligand binding is non-covalent, it offers a much more validated progress path for drug candidates.

Future-technology chemoproteomics system

Belharra’s uniquely differentiated system builds on a legacy of chemoproteomic-centered drug discovery to recognize purposeful and actionable non-covalent, small molecule drug candidates for any binding website, on any protein, in any conformational condition, in any cell type. The platform allows screens to be operate in a total mobile context, which permits the small molecule library to interact with proteins in their native conformations, like protein complexes, which are nearly unachievable to recapitulate in common biochemical screens. This creates the possible to identify subsequent-era therapeutics for earlier hard-to-deal with circumstances.

“We’ve expanded the electrical power of classic chemoproteomic screening approaches and integrated them into a one drug discovery engine that permits, for the first time, the skill to focus on the total assortment of protein courses and targets,” claimed Jeff Jonker, CEO of Belharra. “Our system permits us to swiftly rescreen all of the previously ‘undruggable’ protein targets to detect actionable non-covalent drug-like ligands for purposeful binding pockets.”

The Belharra platform originated in the laboratories of Christopher G. Parker, Ph.D., John Teijaro, Ph.D., and Ben Cravatt, Ph.D., at Scripps Study. There, Drs. Parker and Cravatt formulated a novel photoaffinity-dependent chemoproteomics technological know-how to enable screening for modest molecules that bind proteins in their native context and concentrated it on immunology targets leveraging the experience of Dr. Teijaro. Stuart Schreiber of the Broad Institute joined as a co-founder to deliver enter on utilizing the system for impressive drug discovery and wide therapeutic application.

All through Belharra’s formative phase, the team at Scripps worked together with Belharra’s experts and scientists at Versant’s San Diego-primarily based discovery motor, Inception Therapeutics, to industrialize the know-how and construct a proprietary library of compact molecule photoaffinity probes with outstanding drug-like houses. Centered on targeted and phenotypic screens run by Scripps and Belharra, Belharra expects to advance interior discovery candidates for both equally Oncology and Immunology indications in 2023.

“Having been concerned in a amount of critical providers in the chemical proteomics area, we have large conviction that Belharra represents a new wave of innovation in the space,” explained Tom Woiwode, Ph.D., Controlling Director at Versant and a Belharra board member. “We are really thrilled to be performing with Jeff, Gary and the company’s entire world-course scientific founders to advance medicines for earlier intractable targets and ailments.”

Management team and scientific founders

Belharra is led by knowledgeable executives bolstered by scientific founders with deep experience in chemoproteomics, chemical biology and drug discovery.

  • Jeff Jonker, CEO

    • Mr. Jonker is a veteran biotech executive with comprehensive expertise in operational, strategic, organization advancement and legal roles throughout public and personal firms. Prior to joining Belharra, Jeff led Ambys Medicines as President and CEO from 2018 to 2020. Prior to Ambys, Jeff served as President of NGM Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: NGM) wherever he established the Merck partnership, grew the business into a totally integrated scientific improvement enterprise and guided the development of the company’s sturdy pipeline, such as therapeutics for immuno-oncology, retinal, liver, and metabolic disorders. Jeff formerly held leadership roles at Theravance Biopharma, Gloucester Prescribed drugs and Genentech.
  • Gary O’Neill, Ph.D., CSO

    • Dr. O’Neill is a seasoned biotech government and proficient scientific leader with a successful monitor file throughout numerous achieved study-driven businesses. More than his career, Gary was accountable for translating dozens of investigate assignments into scientific trials and contributing to the approval of a number of new medications. Prior to becoming a member of Belharra, Gary led the Lundbeck La Jolla Analysis Center as Web-site Head. Prior to Lundbeck, Gary served as the Chief Scientific Officer at Abide Therapeutics, which was obtained by Lundbeck in 2019. In advance of becoming a member of Abide in 2013, Gary served as the VP and Website Head of Merck Exploration Laboratories – Boston. He put in the early section of his profession at Merck Frosst and Merck Sharp & Dohme wherever he held many scientific management roles.
  • Rachel Lane, Ph.D., Interim CBO

    • Dr. Lane is an investor at Versant Ventures and business enterprise development executive with above 10 years’ encounter leading R&D collaborations and portfolio tactic throughout the biotech sector. Prior to signing up for Versant, Rachel was Director, Business enterprise Growth at Calico Lifetime Sciences wherever she founded several external partnerships and led the firm into a new therapeutic place. Prior to Calico, she was Sr. Director of Enterprise Enhancement at Ovid Therapeutics. Rachel begun her occupation in non-income at the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation top early-stage investments ahead of joining Wall Street as a Analysis Analyst.
  • Chris Parker, Ph.D., scientific founder

    • Dr. Parker is an Affiliate Professor in the Office of Chemistry at Scripps Study. His investigation focuses on establishing chemistry-enabled techniques to investigate human biology and disease pathology. Investigate at Dr. Parker’s lab integrates organic synthesis with chemical proteomics and cell/molecular biology to study how compact molecules might control, or be designed to regulate, complex biological procedures these as immune responses, and to illuminate molecular mechanisms that contribute to ailment.
  • John Teijaro, Ph.D., scientific founder

    • Dr. Teijaro is a Professor in the Office of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Analysis. Through Dr. Teijaro’s graduate and post-graduate schooling, his exploration specialized in molecular and temporal immunologic attributes linked to viral infection and autoimmunity, publishing many papers on costimulation and cytokine activation in the laboratories of Donna Farber and Michael Oldstone, respectively. As an impartial investigator, Dr. Teijaro is regarded as a planet chief in viral immunology and cytokine biology with breakthrough exploration that is major to new ideas for the immunotherapy of most cancers as nicely a further understanding of the immunology of viral infections which include COVID-19.
  • Benjamin Cravatt, Ph.D., scientific founder

    • Dr. Cravatt is the Gilula Chair of Chemical Biology and Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Scripps Investigation. His study group develops and applies chemical proteomic systems for protein and drug discovery on a world scale and has particular fascination in researching biochemical pathways in the nervous procedure and most cancers. Dr. Cravatt is a co-founder of various profitable biotech companies. His honors include things like a Searle Scholar Award, the Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry, a Cope Scholar Award, the ASBMB Merck Award, the Royal Culture of Chemistry Jeremy Knowles Award, and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Medicine, and American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • Stuart Schreiber, Ph.D., scientific founder

    • Dr. Schreiber has been a founding main member of the Broad Institute given that 2003. He was the founding director in 1997 of Harvard’s Institute of Chemistry and Cell Biology, which furnished the origins of the Wide Institute’s Chemical Biology Application and which has because been integrated into the Chemical Biology and Therapeutic Sciences (CBTS) Software. Dr. Schreiber’s analysis integrates chemical biology and human biology to advance equally our being familiar with of chemistry and biology and the discovery of novel therapeutics. He is recognised for his use of compact molecules to investigate biology and drugs, and for his job in the advancement of the industry of chemical biology.

About Belharra Therapeutics

Belharra Therapeutics, Inc. is a privately held drug discovery firm pioneering a novel photoaffinity-centered chemoproteomics platform to disrupt the drug discovery paradigm. Guided by a various workforce of biotech trailblazers, Belharra’s proprietary discovery engine is uniquely able of pinpointing novel, non-covalent tiny molecule starting off factors for developing transformative medications to handle beforehand complicated-to-deal with diseases and problems. The company’s following technology chemoproteomics platform permits Belharra scientists to detect modest molecule drug candidates for any binding internet site, on any protein, in any conformational condition, in any cell variety. Originating with Christopher G. Parker, Ph.D. and John Teijaro, Ph.D. at Scripps Analysis and pioneers in the subject of chemical biology and serial biotech founders Benjamin Cravatt, Ph.D. at Scripps Study and Stuart Schreiber, Ph.D. at the Wide Institute of MIT and Harvard, the 4 co-established Belharra Therapeutics in 2021 with a $50M Sequence A funding from Versant Ventures and incubation at Inception Therapeutics. Belharra is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Region with its main lab and places of work in San Diego, California. To learn more, remember to go to www.belharratx.com.

About Versant Ventures

Versant Ventures is a major health care venture capital firm fully commited to supporting remarkable entrepreneurs establish the following generation of great firms. The firm’s emphasis is on biotechnology providers that are finding and establishing novel therapeutics. With $4.2 billion less than management and workplaces in the U.S., Canada and Europe, Versant has built a crew with deep expenditure, operating and R&D expertise that permits a fingers-on tactic to corporation making. Due to the fact the firm’s founding in 1999, a lot more than 85 Versant firms have achieved successful acquisitions or IPOs. For more information and facts, be sure to stop by www.versantventures.com.