Sanofi-Backed Matchpoint Launches with $100M for Precision Covalent Medicines - Updated

Money Dollar Bills

Backed by Sanofi and Vertex, Matchpoint Therapeutics hit the ground Friday with $100 million in investments and a focus on the development of precision small molecule medicines.

Matchpoint was formed to leverage the capabilities of covalency to develop new medications that target disease-causing proteins considered unresponsive to small molecule intervention. This includes those with a high affinity for natural ligands and those that require near-complete modulation. 

The Cambridge, Mass.-based company intends to pursue validated targets where covalent chemistry is the “only or best modality for therapeutic intervention,” the company said. 

This approach is believed to improve therapeutic selectivity and potency. It also expands the number of disease-causing proteins that can be therapeutically targeted. Matchpoint added that covalent chemistry is also expected to lower systemic exposure risks.

The company intends to develop its small molecule medicines for a broad range of diseases, including cancer. 

Funds from Matchpoint’s Series A financing round will be used to advance the company’s proprietary platform and its discovery pipeline of novel covalent molecules. 

"Significant Potential" for the Immunology Space

Matchpoint’s Advanced Covalent Exploration (ACE) platform allows the company to combine multiple tools to bolster its discovery and development processes. ACE uses chemoproteomics to identify novel covalent binders to disease-causing proteins. It also brings together machine learning to guide target prioritization and predictability and a proprietary library of evolving covalent compounds informed by predictive algorithms.

In a brief statement, Andre Turenne, president and chief executive officer of Matchpoint, said small molecule therapies underserve the immunology space. The Matchpoint approach offers significant potential for this indication by delivering “highly specific covalent medicines for several of its most important and difficult targets.”

Matchpoint’s initial binder focus will be cysteine because it’s “simply the best amino acid for covalency,” Turenne told BioSpace. As a target, he noted cysteine is the most understood. That being said, Turenne said it is also largely untapped as a targeted nucleophile.

“There’s a big cysteine landscape out there that’s not yet been explored. While we’re focusing on cysteine now, our platform is fully adaptable for the targeting of other nucleophiles in the future,” he said.

The financing provides the company enough cash runway through 2025, Turenne said. 

Nathaniel Gray, a co-founder of Matchpoint and professor of chemical and systems biology at Stanford University, said the ACE platform can maximize the potential to detect “novel covalent labelers of active sites, allosteric sites, and cryptic sites on targets” that have historically been difficult to target with drugs. 

The platform also offers a thorough profile of a molecule’s selectivity early in the discovery process. 

Sanofi Ventures led the $100 million Series A. Other participants included Vertex Ventures HC, Atlas Venture, Access Biotechnology, Digitalis Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments, and additional undisclosed participants. 

The Series A follows a $30 million seed financing round co-led by Atlas Venture and Access Biotechnology in November 2021.

Beyond Turenne at the helm, Matchpoint’s leadership team is rounded out with Chief Scientific Officer Jared Cumming; Mark Tebbe, the company’s chief technology officer and Suresh Singh, senior vice president of computational sciences. 

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