Issue Date: October 31, 2016
Firms aim to fathom diseases
Venture capital investors are helping two start-up companies each raise $40 million that will go toward better understanding of human disease.
Genomics Medicine Ireland has secured Series A funding from Arch Venture Partners, Polaris Partners, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, and GV, formerly known as Google Ventures. Created in 2015, GMI has founders that include the biotech giant Amgen. Its genomics technology is based on work by Iceland’s DeCode Genetics, which Amgen acquired in 2012.
GMI will now build a genomics R&D center in Dublin with some 150 employees. Through collaborations with hospitals and clinical centers, it intends to conduct population-scale genome studies to understand the interplay of genetics and lifestyle in disease. It believes that the knowledge can lead to improved diagnostics, targeted therapies, and more effective prevention.
Separately, Arch, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, and other investment funds have launched BlackThorn Therapeutics. The South San Francisco-based neuroscience firm’s scientific founders are Edward Roberts and Hugh Rosen of Scripps Research Institute California.
BlackThorn plans to discover treatments for neurobehavioral disorders by linking brain physiology to behavior using advanced imaging and assessment tools. The company already has a program in Phase II clinical trials. It licensed BTRX-246040—a small-molecule antagonist of the nociceptin receptor, which has been linked to multiple neurobehavioral disorders—from Eli Lilly & Co. BlackThorn’s second-most advanced program is a κ-opioid receptor antagonist.
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