Evommune Closes Series A Round Worth $83 Million
Los Altos, Calif.-based Evommune closed on a Series A financing round worth $83 million. The financing round included Andera Partners, LSP, Pivotal bioVenture Partners.
Evommune focuses on chronic inflammation using a tissue-based approach. On January 7, 2021, it entered into an exclusive license deal with Dermira, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Company, to develop and commercialize three programs for inflammatory diseases. The compounds included IRAK4/TrkA, which inhibits innate inflammation; RORγt, which targets Th17 mediated inflammation; and MRGPRX2, which treats chronic itching (pruritus).
At the time, Luis Peña, president and chief executive officer of Evommune, said, “These three promising investigational programs expand Evommune’s pipeline and position us for long-term growth as a research and development company. As our leadership team was pivotal in the original development of these compounds at Dermira, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to continue their development and potentially help the many patients living with these debilitating diseases who are in dire need of new treatment options to improve their quality of life.”
The company’s fourth compound is a PKC-theta inhibitor, which Evommune picked up through an exclusive partnership with Japan’s Axcelead Drug Discovery Partners. It originated from Axcelead’s Hit-identified Target (A-HiT) project. PKC-theta is a member of the protein kinase C (PKC) family of kinases, which is mostly expressed in T cells, with a dual role in T-cell biology. First, activation of PKC-theta causes effector T-cell activation, proliferation, and production of IL-2. The second role is that inhibition of PKC-theta causes an increase in both the numbers and functionality of regulatory T-cells. Laboratory animals that do not have functional PKC-theta are resistant to inflammatory diseases. Possible indications include rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and Crohn’s disease.
The company was founded in 2020 by Peña; Eugene A Bauer, M.D., chief medical officer; and Hans Hofland, senior vice president, Research. Peña was co-founder of Dermira and acted as its chief development officer, heading the Research and Development group. Bauer was co-founder, chief medical officer, and board member of Dermira. Hofland was Dermira’s head of Research and Nonclinical Development.
The company’s management team is rounded out by Janice Drew, senior vice president, Product Development, who was formerly the senior vice president of Portfolio Planning and Management at Dermira.
The company states that it “is using the skin as the lens to uncover new approaches for accelerating the development of vital medicines across immunology with a focus on inflammation.” It uses a novel screen platform to identify differentiated molecules that are more likely to be effective for treating chronic inflammatory diseases.
“We were initially drawn to Evommune because of their stellar leadership team,” said Rob Hopfner, managing partner at Pivotal bioVenture Partners. “This team has over three decades of success in identifying and developing innovative compounds. Since our initial investment, the team has continued to impress us with the identification of potentially novel compounds that could become transformative treatments for patients who are living with chronic inflammatory conditions and experiencing a reduced quality of life.”
Eli Lilly acquired Dermira for $1.1 billion in January 2020. Peña founded Evommune about a week later with the intention of in-licensing programs that he was involved in while at Dermira. Peña and Bauer, who was formerly dean of Stanford’s School of Medicine, helped found Dermira in 2010.