Proceeds to support the development of small-molecule drugs that modulate the transport of metabolites for oncology and immunology indications
Boston, January 26, 2021 – Nirogy Therapeutics Inc., a privately-held biotechnology company developing novel small molecules to target cellular transporters, today announced the closing of a $16.5 million Series A financing. The financing was co-led by Santé Ventures and Sporos. In conjunction with the financing, Dennis McWilliams of Santé and Joseph Kekst of Sporos will join Nirogy’s board of directors, and Casey Cunningham, Ph.D. will join Nirogy’s scientific advisory board.
Nirogy plans to use the proceeds to advance its drug discovery platform to generate a pipeline of small-molecule drugs designed to target the solute carrier family of transporter proteins (SLCTs) embedded in the cell membrane. SLCTs are gatekeepers of essential physiological functions, including nutrient uptake and metabolite disposal, which are aberrantly altered in many diseases. Enabled by its proprietary small-molecule compound library and rapid development strategies, Nirogy is developing first-in-class medicines with an initial focus on oncology and autoimmune diseases.
“Cellular transporters, which are central to many aspects of cell biology and dysregulated in myriad diseases, have not been effectively targeted due to the complex structures of SLCTs. Our team’s strength in computational modeling, medicinal chemistry and cancer biology has enabled us to overcome the challenge of drugging these critical untapped targets,” said Vincent Sandanayaka, Ph.D., founder, president and chief executive officer of Nirogy Therapeutics. “We are fortunate to have a world-class scientific advisory board, highly committed investor partners and a dedicated team with proven scientific and drug development expertise.”
Nirogy’s lead program targets lactate transporters for the treatment of cancer and is expected to enter human clinical trials in 2022. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells consume large amounts of glucose and excrete a huge excess of lactic acid to the tumor microenvironment via lactate transporters for their rapid growth and survival. Lactate-rich tumors create a hostile environment for immune cells to survive, thus suppressing anti-tumor immunity. Nirogy’s lactate transport inhibitors have shown robust anti-tumor efficacy in preclinical models, either as monotherapy or combination therapy. Nirogy’s pipeline also includes a second transporter target in cancer and a third program in immunology.
Dennis McWilliams, partner at Santé Ventures, said: “We recognize the potential of the Nirogy team and its proprietary drug discovery engine in SLCTs, which could yield over 450 potential druggable targets and open up new treatment modalities for a number of life-threatening diseases.”
Ronald DePinho, M.D., Nirogy co-founder and chair of the Sporos strategic advisory board, added: “It is a privilege to work with this incredible team that’s focused on revealing the mysteries of cellular transport biology and converting such insights into medicines for our patients in need.”
Nirogy Therapeutics is a biotechnology company based in Boston, MA developing novel small molecules to target cellular transporters. The company is currently advancing a class of small molecules intended to disrupt metabolic and immune mechanisms operative in the tumor microenvironment. Follow-on platform programs are targeting additional disease pathways in oncology as well as autoimmune diseases.
For more information, please visit nirogytx.com.
ABOUT SANTE VENTURES
Founded in 2006, Santé Ventures is a specialized healthcare and life sciences investment firm with over a half-billion dollars in capital under management. The firm invests in early-stage companies developing innovative new medical technologies, biotechnologies, and digitally enabled healthcare services. Recent Santé successes include Claret Medical (Boston Scientific), TVA Medical (Becton Dickinson), Millipede Medical (Boston Scientific), Molecular Templates (MTEM), AbVitro (Celgene), and Explorys (IBM Corp). Santé invests nationally and has offices in Austin, TX and Boston, MA. For more information, please visit sante.com.