Nimbus Therapeutics Raises Another $65 Million from Lilly, Bill Gates, Pfizer and Others
Nimbus Therapeutics, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, raised an additional $65 million in financing. Early investors participated, including Atlas Venture, SR One, Lilly Ventures, Bill Gates, Pfizer Venture Investments, Lightstone Ventures, and Schrodinger.
About two years ago, Nimbus was considering an initial public offering as a way to fund its work in autoimmune and liver diseases. Instead, the company decided to negotiate deals with larger companies. In 2016, Gilead Sciences acquired a Nimbus subsidiary with an upfront payment of $400 million to gain access to a possible drug for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Nimbus could receive up to $800 million in milestone payments on the drug, which is currently in mid-stage clinical trials.
Since then it has signed deals with Monsanto, Genentech, and Celgene The deal with Monsanto is to develop fungicides. It has two programs with Celgene. One is a tyrosine kinase 2 (Tyk 2) program for immunology and oncology, the other a stimulator of interferon genes (STING), for immunology.
Xconomy notes, “But Nimbus retains the right to develop drugs that activate the STING pathway, an approach that other companies have since taken up as a potential way to treat cancer. Activating STING may also have applications in virology. A potential Nimbus STING cancer immunotherapy is in preclinical development. The company is looking for a partner for that compound.”
The company was founded in 2009 as Nimbus Discovery. It utilizes chemical-simulation software developed by Schrodinger, a software company that is also an investor in Nimbus.
Nimbus is structured as a series of independent C corporation. Each C corp houses distinct research and development programs focused on a specific disease target. This allows the company to make investment and partnership decisions based on an asset, as opposed to an entire pipeline. In 2016, it sold one of those C Corps, Nimbus Apollo, to Gilead Sciences for an upfront payment of $400 million with a potential for another $800 million in milestones. The Nimbus Apollo program included NDI-010976, an ACC inhibitor to treat NASH.
Of this new financing, Don Nicholson, Nimbus’ chief executive officer, stated, “The continued support from our world-class investor base is testament to our team’s repeated success in designing and developing promising candidates through our unique combination of massive computational-chemistry horsepower with founding partner, Schrodinger, coupled with additional cutting-edge technologies in structural biology, cryo-EM, and machine learning-augmented ADMET prediction to rapidly advance our pipeline to the clinic. We have made substantial progress across our entire portfolio, including inhibitor of Tyk2 (tyrosine kinase 2) and antagonists of STING (stimulator of interferon genes), both under our immunology alliance with Celgene. Additionally, our wholly-owned STING agonist program has generated novel, highly potent, bona fide small molecules with compelling preclinical data.”
Although the company is set up in a way that makes it fairly straightforward to sell drugs it develops, it is interested in keeping some of its internal programs. This new financing will help in that process.
“This most recent infusion of capital from our investors, together with proceeds from business development activity, enables Nimbus to remain a privately held LLC organization, which has allowed us to transact multiple deals with world-leading partners such as Gilead, Celgene, and Genentech,” said Jeb Kelper, Nimbus’ chief financial officer and chief business officer, in a statement. “Nimbus’ success has built a nine-figure balance sheet of resources for the rapid advancement and expansion of our pipeline and technology, which will allow us to develop several other undisclosed target programs forward to the clinic in the next few years.”