Odyssey Bags $168M to Accelerate Push to the Clinic
Odyssey Founder and CEO Gary D. Glick/Courtesy Odyssey Therapeutics
Odyssey Therapeutics raised $168 million in a Series B financing round, which will be used to advance its portfolio of immunomodulators and oncology therapies, according to founder and CEO Gary Glick.
Since its launch less than a year ago, Odyssey has raised $386 million in support of its eight developmental programs that could be in the clinic within the next two years.
The Boston-based company is advancing multiple programs in immunology and oncology. Odyssey is focusing on targets with strong validation where there are currently no available solutions.
The company is leveraging its experience in immunology, biology, data science and translational medicine to discover and develop high-potential targets.
Glick told BioSpace the financing will accelerate Odyssey's push to the clinic. Based on the company’s rapid development of its platform and growth to more than 160 people, Glick noted it went into fundraising mode to keep the momentum going.
In addition to the rapidly expanding headcount, he said the company has built a target discovery and technology platform and is now managing multiple sites.
Odyssey launched in December 2021 with a $218 million Series A. Within a month, it acquired Rahko, a London-based machine learning company that is expected to complement and bolster its drug development capabilities in immunology and oncology.
Odyssey will combine Rahko’s quantum machine learning methods with functional genomics and other omics data to identify novel targets. At the time of the acquisition, Glick said Rahko’s technology would offer Odyssey an edge in discovering new molecules that can impact diseases with few or no treatment options.
Odyssey has kept its developmental program targets close to its vest.
The company's drug development approach focuses on key signaling nodes that drive disease, which allows it to focus on targets that are currently considered undruggable.
Without identifying potential targets, Glick said the company will focus on areas such as cell cycle regulation and DNA damage repair in oncology. For immunology, the focus will be on the innate immune system. Odyssey has identified small molecules in protein therapeutics that will serve as foundational modalities.
Odyssey is advancing its first programs toward Investigational New Drug-enabling studies. It anticipates the first of its programs will enter the clinic in 2024. After that, several more programs are expected to follow through 2026.
In May, Odyssey named biotech veteran Jeffrey Leiden, former CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, as chairman of the board of directors. Glick and Leiden have a long history together, going back to their days at Michigan-based Lycera, which Glick founded and where he served as chief scientific officer. Leiden was on the board of directors.
Having a noted physician-scientist such as Leiden helming the board is a validation of Odyssey’s drug development approach, Glick said.
Before accepting the position, Leiden poured over the company’s research to ensure it was the right fit. Since assuming the chairman role, Leiden has become a mentor to the leadership team, researchers and other members of the rapidly growing company.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Jeff had 50 opportunities per day come across his desk but he chose us,” Glick said.
A Platform Company
Elena Viboch, a partner at General Catalyst, the venture firm that led the Series B, told BioSpace her company played a key role in bringing Leiden to Odyssey.
“We had a relationship with Jeff, Gary had a relationship with Jeff… all roads lead to Jeff,” she quipped. She noted that at Vertex, Leiden built an enduring company, which is something that can also be done at Odyssey.
“This is a platform company with eight programs in the pipeline and is pioneering next-generation therapeutics with its drug discovery engine. What makes it exciting is they have a platform that allows them to discover novel therapies that others could not discover.”
She added that, like Leiden, Glick wants Odyssey to become a lasting pharmaceutical company bringing precision treatments to patients in need. That’s something Glick confirmed.
Over the course of his career as a serial entrepreneur, Glick has launched four different companies. In addition to Lycera, he founded Scorpion Therapeutics, IFM Therapeutics and First Wave Bio. Odyssey is the culmination of his career.
“We’re trying to make something, to grow something to be a lasting organization. We believe we'll have a number of interesting product candidates coming to the clinic in a short time,” he said.