Morningside Launches Inflammatory-focused Adiso, Scenic Scores $31M for Rare Diseases

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With the help of significant financial backing, two companies announced major milestones and ambitious drug discovery plans Thursday morning. Morningside Ventures launched a new biotech company called Adiso Therapeutics, and thriving startup Scenic Biotech scooped up €28 million ($31 million) in funding.

Adiso is dedicated to advancing therapies for inflammatory diseases. This latest endeavor from Morningside already has several clinical-stage programs and a healthy pipeline of products.

Massachusetts-based Morningside Ventures, an experienced biopharma investor that has supported companies like Generate Biomedics and ReviR Therapeutics, said it had financed all of Adiso Therapeutics' development so far and will continue to support its growth going forward.

With solid backing from Morningside, Adiso launched a hefty pipeline of products already in testing phases. Adiso specializes in small molecule and live biotherapeutic products. Its lead clinical candidate, an oral single strain live biotherapeutic called ADS024, aims to settle moderate to severe ulcerative colitis cases and help prevent the recurrence of C. difficile infections. ADS024 has already been granted Fast Track Designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is being investigated in a Phase II study.

Another promising product is ADS051, a neutrophil modulator that helps treat ulcerative colitis. It is being tested in a Phase Ib study and has proved to be safe and well-tolerated.

Additionally, Adiso is developing a novel inflammasome program. The program aims to find therapeutics for respiratory inflammation, starting with an experimental NLRP3/NRLP1 inflammasome inhibitor to treat inflammatory lung conditions.

As the new company tackles inflammatory diseases, it will do so from a unique angle. Many inflammatory diseases are the result of an immune disorder. As therapies try to quell symptoms of inflammation, they also frequently suppress the immune system, which can have devastating side effects. Adiso hopes to treat the symptoms without damaging other body systems. Using biotherapeutic products such as therapeutic bacteria, Adiso aims to take targeted action against diseases in gut-restricted treatments.

"At Adiso, we are tackling inflammatory diseases with diverse mechanisms and a bold approach. We envision a new reality for patients, leveraging known advances of inflammatory therapeutics which promise to recalibrate the immune system of the host, so that the underlying inflammatory disease is neither overactivated nor does the patient becoming immunocompromised," said Adiso Therapeutics CEO Scott Megaffin.

Scenic Scores €28 million to Advance Pipeline

Another company announcing major backing Thursday is Scenic Biotech, which identifies genetic modifiers for drug intervention for rare diseases and cancer. Scenic scooped up €28 million ($31 million) in a Series A round of funding led by Eir Ventures, BioMedPartners and Vesalius Biocapital - all major European life sciences investors.

Scenic said that the funding will accelerate its journey into a development-stage company and help support its flagship product, the Cell-Seq genetic modifier target discovery platform. The funding will also allow the company to double its headcount in the next year and a half.

Started as a spin-out from the Netherlands Cancer Institute and Oxford University in 2017, Scenic has been thriving ever since. In June 2020, the Dutch government awarded Scenic a €3.1 million innovation credit for its CD47/QPCTL immuno-oncology program. The innovation credit money supported Scenic in several preclinical development initiatives for genetic modifiers, an entirely new class of drug targets.

The innovation caught the eye of Roche subsidiary Genentech. In 2020, Genentech and Scenic entered into a collaboration agreement to develop and commercialize genetic modifier therapeutics. Under the agreement, Scenic will use its Cell-Seq platform to identify drug targets selected by Genentech. Scenic received an upfront payment for an undisclosed amount. In addition, Genentech will pay Scenic "target selection fees" and success-based payments for reaching milestones.

Due to their success, Genentech has expanded the collaboration twice to include six scientific areas on top of Scenic's in-house pipeline.

"Scenic Biotech has the potential to become one of Europe's most exciting biotech companies. It is a pioneer in the ground-breaking and promising new field of genetic modifiers," said Stephan Christgau, Ph.D., a general partner at investor Eid Ventures. "We are impressed by the power of its Cell-Seq platform and how it's fueling a portfolio of in-house and partnered programs across multiple therapeutic areas. This financing will enable Scenic to continue to develop its platform and move its lead program into human clinical trials while bringing its rare disease programs to key value inflection points." 

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