Backed by Pfizer and Roche, Bay Area's Second Genome Nabs $42.6 Million

Published: Apr 21, 2016

Backed by Pfizer and Roche, Bay Area's Second Genome Nabs $42.6 Million
April 20, 2016
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

South San Francisco-based Second Genome announced today that it had closed on a Series B investment round with $42.6 million. It was co-led by Pfizer Venture Investments and Roche Venture Fund. They were joined by new investors, Digitalis Ventures, Adveq, LifeForce Capital, MBL Venture Capital, and Mayo Clinic. Previous investors also included Advanced Technology Ventures, Morgenthaler Ventures, Seraph Group, and individual investor Matthew Winkler.

In addition to the financing, Elaine Jones, executive director of Pfizer Venture Investments, and Carole Neuchterlein, head of Roche Venture Fund, will join the company’s board of directors.

Second Genome plans to use the money, which now totals $59 million, to take its lead product, SGM-1019, through a mid-stage clinical trial for inflammation and pain in individuals with ulcerative colitis.

Second Genome was spun out of Gary Andersen’s laboratory at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The focus is on developing drugs that target functional proteins, peptides and metabolites that are generated from the microbiome in the gut.

Research has indicated that about one-third of metabolites in circulation in the human body are a product of gut microbiota. Changes in that environment can trigger human cellular changes, which can contribute to disease or disease progression.

The company was founded by biotech entrepreneur Corey Goodman. Goodman is a partner at venBio. He was previously president of Pfizer 's Biotherapeutics and Bioinnovation Center. He is also the co-founder of Exelixis , Renovis, and Ossianix before he joined venBio.

Microbiome research is an interesting, relatively new field of work. In mid-February, Cambridge, Mass.-based Synlogic announced it has closed a Series B investment round worth $40 million. Synlogic’s approach is in synthetic biology, engineering bacteria to produce a byproduct. That bacteria can be loaded into a capsule and ingested, where the bacteria’s byproducts go to work.

Another company, also in Cambridge, Seres Therapeutics, is investigating an oral microbiome drug to treat infections caused by Clostridium difficile (C. Diff).

“Our approach to developing novel therapeutics based on secreted functional proteins, peptides, and metabolites from the microbiome is highly relevant to the pharmaceutical industry,” said Peter DiLaura, Second Genome’s chief executive officer, in a statement. “The progress made by our team to date has allowed us to attract significant interest from a premier group of investors, including Pfizer Venture Investments and Roche Venture Fund. This financing will enable us to accelerate our efforts to scale our unique microbiome discovery platform and reach several major inflection points, including key milestones for the SGM-1019 clinical program and other therapeutic programs.”

Second Genome has 25 employees. In addition to its drug development programs, it has pharmaceutical and biotech clients that use its technology platform to sequence microbial genomes. This has allowed the company to bring in revenue while developing its drug program.

“There are more than just bugs-as-drugs approaches,” DiLaura told Forbes. “The breadth of applications of the microbiome is expanding. The microbiome isn’t going to have all the answers, just like host biology won’t have all the answers, but there’s nice recognition that in some disease indications, you’re really missing part of the equation if you’re not trying to understand the role the microbiome plays.”

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