Bay Area Startup BridgeBio Quietly Snags $135 Million From a Bunch of Wall Street Firms

Bay Area Startup BridgeBio Quietly Snags $135 Million From a Bunch of Wall Street Firms September 13, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Palo Alto, Calif. – BridgeBio Pharma, which was founded in 2015, recently closed on a $135 million series C round. It was co-led by Viking Global Investors and KKR. They were joined by Perceptive Advisors, AIG, Aisling Capital, Cormorant Capital, and Janus Funds.

BridgeBio focuses on developing genetically targeted therapies, with a spoke-and-hub business model “BridgeBio Pharma continues to focus on our mission to create medicines for patients with genetic diseases,” said Neil Kumar, BridgeBio’s co-founder and chief executive officer, in a statement. “In particular, we work to identify promising, but often overlooked, early stage innovation that can translate into drugs that matter for patients. We are fortunate to be supported by investors who believe in our mission.”

The company also attempts to fill a gap in funding for early-stage therapies that are still in pre-clinical development that need a smaller investment instead of large capital investments. As a result, BridgeBio has funded at least 10 subsidiary companies that are working on a variety of disorders, including skin conditions and inherited heart disorders. Of the 10 listed on the company website, only two are in later stage clinical trials.

Business Insider, for example, says, “The subsidiary approach to developing a pharmaceutical company is a bit different from the traditional biotech startup, which tend to revolve around a disease area or a certain technology, like the gene-editing tool CRISPR. It’s similar to Roivant, a company that hopes to bring new life to drugs that have been put on the shelf by other companies that raised $1.1 billion in August. The two companies both are connected to MIT professor Andrew Lo: he co-founded BridgeBio and is an independent director for Roivant.”

The $135 million raised will apparently be used to establish up to another 10 of these research-and-development subsidiaries.

John Carroll, writing for Endpoints News, says, “Kumar, an ex-McKinsey and former BD biotech exec, likes to think that this expanded slate of investors prefers a more low-key approach to R&D: focusing primarily on early-stage and often overlooked work on genetic diseases that requires less initial capital outlay—a Moneyball model that MIT’s Andrew Lo helped create in advising Kumar while also investing in the company.”

Only a few weeks ago, BridgeBio helped fund a Phase III trial at Pelle-Pharma after it announced positive topline data from its Phase II trial of patidegib in patients with Gorlin Syndrome. Gorlin Syndrome is a rare genetic disease that causes multiple basal cell carcinomas.

Lo said in a statement, “Despite the terrific scientific innovations we’ve seen in biomedicine, there’s been much less innovation on the corporate side. BridgeBio employs a novel structure that combines portfolio diversification with asset-level focus to sustainably develop drugs for genetic disease.”

The 10 programs launched so far are dermatology, oncology, cardiology, neurology and endocrine. Indications that have been targeted include transthyretin amyloidosis (ATTR-CM and ATTR-PN), pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN), Gorlin syndrome and frequent basal cell carcinomas, dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (DEB), Darier and Hailey-Hailey diseases, Netherton syndrome, and SHP-2, K-RAS and C-RAF driven cancers.

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