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Bay Area Biotech Surrozen Launches With $33 Million and Could Double Its Headcount by Next Year



2/15/2017 6:26:41 AM

Bay Area Biotech Surrozen Launches With $33 Million and Could Double Its Headcount by Next Year February 15, 2017
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Surrozen, based in South San Francisco, Calif., launched with a $33 million Series A financing. The round was led by The Column Group.

The company will focus on Wnt signaling, which has a central role in organism development, stem-cell maintenance and tissue regeneration.

“Wnt proteins profoundly impact the formation of tissues and their repair after injury, representing an enormous opportunity for innovative drugs that can address organ degeneration and refractory healing conditions,” said Tim Kutzkey, acting chief executive officer of Surrozen and managing partner of The Column Group, in a statement. “Owing to their poor solubility, Wnt proteins themselves have never been successfully advanced as therapeutics. However, technology developed in the lab of Chris Garcia, co-founder of Surrozen, has overcome this previously insurmountable hurdle, enabling the generation of active Wnt ‘surrogates’ with attractive, drug-like properties.”


Garcia’s work has typically focused on cancer research, but Wnt surrogates can play a role in tissue repair. They have potential in liver, kidney, bone or other diseases. Kutz told John Carroll, of Endpoints News, “They’re difficult to handle, produce, also difficult to tune. Wnt could be a very powerful tool; how to advance them in drug development has stymied folks for some time.”

The founders of the company include:

K. Christopher Garcia, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researcher and professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology and Structural Biology at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Roeland Nusse, an HHMI investigator, Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research and a professor of Developmental Biology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Calvin Kuo, the Maureen Lyles D’Ambrogio Professor of Medicine and a professor of Chemical and Systems Biology, leader of the Cancer Biology Program at the Stanford Cancer Center, as well as vice chair for Basic and Translational Research in the Department of Medicine.

Claudia Janda, senior scientist at Surrozen and former research scientist and postdocatoral associate in the Garcia Lab at Stanford.

“Wnt pathway activation has been a biochemical puzzle for decades,” Garcia said in a statement. “Our technology opens the door to address fundamental biological and therapeutic questions in tissue repair for the first time. I am confident that our team’s deep expertise in many complementary areas will drive these important scientific advances into useful drugs.”
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Currently Surrozen has 18 people and, according to Kutzkey, enough cash to last 2-1/2 to three years, moving preclinical studies toward the clinic.

Carroll writes, “Regenerative medicine and stem cell research went through a popular surge in California, with little to show for it by way of usable new therapeutic technologies. Now, though, after the first wave of hype has ebbed away, companies like Frequency Therapeutics and a new $225 million joint venture between Versant and Bayer (BAY) dubbed BlueRock have stepped up to take a new, perhaps better informed shot at the field. Surrozen thinks it can be part of the renaissance.”

Kutzkey says that Surrozen is expecting to hire and will likely double in size (from 18 to 36 staffers) in the next year. The company will be located at Oyster Point in South San Francisco.


Read at BioSpace.com


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