Backed By Eli Lilly, Roche, and Sanofi, Startup Lysosomal Therapeutics Bags $20 Million

Backed By Eli Lilly (LLY), Roche (RHHBY), and Sanofi (SAN.PA), Startup Lysosomal Therapeutics Bags $20 Million
February 3, 2015
By Jessica Wilson, Breaking News Staff

Lysosomal Therapeutics Inc. (LTI) announced today that the company has raised $20 million in Series A financing from existing investors including Lilly Ventures, Roche Venture Fund, Sanofi-Genzyme BioVenture, Atlas Ventures, Hatteras Venture Partners and Partners Innovation Fund. Several new angel investors, including Orion Equity Partners, LLC, and LTI co-founders Henri Termeer and Bob Carpenter, contributed as well.

The new funding will support two ongoing initiatives and one new project. The primary beneficiary will be the preclinical development of a glucocerebrosidase (GCase) lysosomal enzyme activator candidate for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The second will be a biomarker initiative, which began with grant funding from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, that will help the company select patients for future clinical trials. The new project will be research into genetic links between other lysosomal storage disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

“Our work to date has affirmed our theory that rare diseases, like Gaucher disease, can be used as model systems for developing therapeutics for common neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease,” said Kees Been, LTI’s founding president and chief executive officer, in a statement. LTI’s trajectory as outlined by Been will be to advance the glucocerebrosidase (GCase) lysosomal enzyme activator to a clinical start and to grow the company’s biology platform by exploring known relationships between other lysosomal storage and neurodegenerative disorders.

LTI succeeded in meeting its initial, seed-stage goal—to generate a compelling lead-stage molecule within its GCase program,” said Bruce Booth, a partner at Atlas Venture, the lead investor of LTI's Series A financing. “With the syndicate’s participation in this Series A round, we are not only supporting further development of LTI’s breakthrough therapeutic mechanism for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, but we are also enabling LTI to expand beyond Parkinson’s disease and build out a platform around additional novel targets implicated in underserved orphan and neurodegenerative disorders.”

LTI made news in May 2014 when it snagged $4.8 million in seed money and announced the debut of the company. Before becoming an officially announced company, however, LTI had an influential mentor and spokesperson, Henri Termeer, the former chief executive officer of Genzyme Corporation, a pioneer in the development of treatments for rare genetic diseases.

The Boston Globe reported in 2013 that Termeer was in constant contact with Dimitri Krainc, the man who launched LTI. While at the helm of Genzyme, Termeer invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the Parkinson’s research that did not yield successful treatments for the disease. Termeer sees his relationship with LTI as a way to enable people to succeed where his efforts had failed, according to the Globe. “It’s something that’s on your mind,” Termeer told the Globe. “If I can make a difference, I’ll do it.”

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