Enlaza Raises $100M in Series A Financing Led by JP Morgan’s Life Sciences Group

J.P. Morgan Hong Kong/iStock, danielvfung

Pictured: A sign on a J.P. Morgan building in Hong Kong/iStock, danielvfung

Enlaza Therapeutics announced Tuesday it has raised $100 million in Series A financing led by the Life Sciences group of J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s Private Capital division. The California-based company said it will use the proceeds from the round to advance the first covalent biologic platform and pipeline to the clinic for novel protein drugs. 

“We are thrilled to close this financing with a group of new and existing investors that share our vision of creating a novel, differentiated class of protein therapeutics in oncology and other therapeutic areas,” Enlaza CEO Sergio Duron said in a statement. “This support will enable continued expansion of our covalent protein drug platform, establishment of a diversified pipeline that demonstrates the broad potential of this approach, and advancement of our lead assets toward clinical development.” 

In December 2022, Enlaza launched with the closing of $61 million in seed financing to build a pipeline of covalent biologics with an initial focus on developing novel, differentiated cancer therapeutics with targeted efficacy and low toxicity. 

Covalent drugs are thought to be safer and more tolerable than other biologic drugs, allowing for more frequent and lower doses. While other companies are working with covalent small molecules, Enlaza says it's the first to work in biologics. Protein drugs produced by Enlaza’s covalent biologic platform, called War-Lock, can be modified to incorporate various payloads and achieve specific delivery to target tissues with high fidelity, according to the company. 

Enlaza’s preclinical data has demonstrated efficient tumor penetration with low off-target damage, binding to cancer cells tightly while avoiding healthy cells, according to the company. The covalent bond is designed to bind permanently to the tumor, delivering a constant payload to its cells. Enlaza said it has developed a “high-value” pipeline of covalent protein drugs. The $100 million Series A raise will be used to advance its pipeline and undisclosed lead assets toward the clinic. 

J.P. Morgan led the raise with participation from existing investors—Frazier Life Sciences, Avalon Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Samsara BioCapital—as well as new ones such as the investment arms of Amgen and Regeneron.  

“Bringing covalency to the biologics market is an extremely valuable way to unlock the next generation of protein therapeutics,” Stephen Squinto, CIO of Life Sciences group of J.P. Morgan Private Capital said in a statement. The fund was launched in November 2022 by the banking giant. Squinto has been added to Enlaza’s board of directors. 

Kate Goodwin is a freelance life science writer based in Des Moines, Iowa. She can be reached at kate.goodwin@biospace.com and on LinkedIn. 

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