Disc Medicine Closes $50 Million Series A and Inks Licensing Deal with AbbVie


Disc Medicine, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, announced the completion of a $50 million Series A financing. The round was led by Novo Holdings along with Access Biotechnology and founding investor Atlas Venture. The company also announced today that it had inked an exclusive deal with AbbVie for a series of hemojuvelin antagonist monoclonal antibodies.

Disc Medicine is focused on hepcidin biology to restore red blood cell production in hematologic diseases. Hepcidin is a small peptide hormone produced by the liver. It is a key regulator of systemic iron metabolism. Problems with hepcidin cause iron overload or iron deficiency and is seen in a variety of diseases associated with ineffective erythropoiesis, such as myelodysplastic syndromes, thalassemia, and anemia of chronic diseases.

The company has two therapeutic programs focused on regulating hepcidin expression. One is an orally administered matriptase-2 inhibitor that increases hepcidin expression to treat iron loading anemias. The other is a hemojuvelin antagonist monoclonal antibody to decrease hepcidin expression and focus on anemia in various chronic inflammatory and hematologic diseases.

“Disc Medicine is poised to transform the treatment of these hematologic diseases with its novel approach to targeting hepcidin biology,” said Kevin Bitterman, founding investor, Atlas Venture. “Over the past fifty years, the treatment of anemia has relied largely on blood transfusions which can be burdensome and even impair patient outcomes. Further, options are limited for patients who do not receive transfusions. With the launch of Disc Medicine, we seek to change the treatment paradigm with a new way to address the ineffective erythropoiesis that is associated with these diseases.”

In terms of the AbbVie deal, no financial terms were disclosed.

“The addition of these hemojuvelin antagonist antibodies to our pipeline is an excellent strategic fit for Disc Medicine,” said Brian MacDonald, founder and interim chief executive officer of Disc. “Our first program is a novel, orally administered therapy which increases hepcidin expression to treat iron loading anemias. In contrast, these antibodies target hemojuvelin to reduce hepcidin expression and provide us with the opportunity to develop new approaches to the treatment of anemia in a different spectrum of chronic inflammatory and hematologic diseases.”

Atlas helped found Disc in 2017 with seed funding.

Prior to founding Disc, MacDonald was founder and chief executive officer of Merganser Biotech. He also has held a variety of development and management roles with Zelos Therapeutics, 3-Dimensional Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline.

Maria Beconi is the senior vice president of Translational R&D. Prior to joining Disc, she held leadership positions at Goldfinch Bio, Retrophin, Abbott and Merck.

Srikanth Venkatraman is the senior vice president, head of Chemistry. Prior to joining Disc, he worked at Schering Plough (later Merck) where he was co-inventor of Victrelis and Arlansa.

Joanne Bryce is a consultant, chief financial officer. She previously acted as chief financial officer of Quartet Medicine, and held similar roles at WiTricity, Speedy Packets and Narrative Communications.

As part of the Series A, Donald Nicholson, former chief executive officer of Nimbus Therapeutics, is joining Disc as executive chairman.

“We have accumulated a wealth of experience and new insights into hepcidin biology and its role in hematologic diseases,” said MacDonald. “We are harnessing these insights to develop first-in-class therapies targeting the hepcidin pathway to address a wide range of anemias.”

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