Gladstone Institute Spinout Tenaya Therapeutics Launches With $50 Million

Gladstone Institute Spinout Tenaya Therapeutics Launches With $50 Million December 7, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

SAN FRANCISCO -- With a focus on regenerative medicine and drug discovery for cardiovascular disease, Tenaya Therapeutics, a spinout of the Gladstone Institute, launched with $50 million in Series A funding led by The Column Group.

Deepak Srivastava, the director of the Gladstone Institute and co-founder of Tenaya Therapeutics, said there is a need for new paths in treating cardiovascular issues beyond a heart transplant. In a statement on the Gladstone website, Srivastava said the body is unable to repair the dead or injured cells in a damaged heart muscle. He said the focus of Tenaya will be to use Gladstone’s “pioneering work in cellular reprogramming” to search for cures for heart failure. Srivastava said the hope is Tenaya will be able to develop a treatment that is more “scalable” than the current method of heart transplants.

One of the new programs Tenaya plans to initiate will “translate cellular reprogramming technology to the clinic to regenerate heart muscle cells in patients with heart failure.” Another curative program will explore the use of stem cell technology in heart disease. The company said it will use cellular models of heart disease developed from stem cells to identify potential drug targets.

Tenaya is the first business formed from Gladstone’s entrepreneurial program, BioFulcrum. Gladstone said the program is aimed at bringing together scientists, nonprofit organizations and industry leaders to spur drug development.

Tenaya will be helmed by J.J. Kang, an associate at The Column Group. Kang said they were inspired by the collaborative work at BioFulcrum and opted to found the new company to “integrate new findings and tools in the cardiac field and advance them towards clinical translation.”

“Our goal is to build a science-focused company that discovers novel therapies for heart failure patients,” Kang said in a statement.

Kang is not the only representative of The Column Group to take a hand in leadership at the new company. As Tenaya launches, David Goeddel, a managing partner at The Column Group assumed the role of chairman of the company board of directors. Goeddel is certainly no stranger to scientific discovery as he was the first scientist hired by Genentech and also founded Tularik Inc., which was later acquired by Amgen for $1.3 billion.

Cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and congenital heart failure, are the global leading cause of death. Heart failure is the cause of death in about 20 million people annually, Gladstone said. Gladstone’s Stephen Freedman, vice president for corporate liaison, added that there has been “limited commercial investment” in the field of cardiac medicine despite progress made at Gladstone and elsewhere. He said the hope is Tenaya will change that by advancing the work that has been done at Gladstone.

In addition to Srivastava, Tenaya was co-founded by other Gladstone affiliates including Benoit Bruneau, Bruce Conklin, Sheng Ding and Saptarsi Halda.

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