What You Need to Know About Thyritope Biosciences

What You Need to Know About Thyritope Bioscience
December 2, 2015
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Thyritope Biosciences is working to develop drugs that target thyroid stimulating auto-antibodies, which are the causes of Graves’ hyperthyroidism and Graves’ orbitopathy. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder caused by antibodies that overstimulate the thyroid, which causes excessive thyroid hormone production. Those antibodies stimulate the tissue around the eyes that increases orbital fat and extra-ocular muscle volume, which causes the distinctive bulging eyes of Graves’ disease.

Currently, there are treatments to manage Graves, but nothing that addresses the underlying cause of the disease. Thyritope was founded on the molecular evolution technology developed by Patrick Daugherty, professor of Chemical Engineering, and Biomolecular Science and Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara and commercialized by Serimmune.

Launched as a collaboration between Avalon Ventures and GlaxoSmithKline , Thyritope is located at COI Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, a community of innovation founded by Avalon to provide operational support, a fully equipped research-and-development facility and an experienced leadership team.

“Graves’ disease is caused by an autoantibody that attacks the thyroid,” Jay Lichter, Thyritope’s chief executive officer, told BioSpace in an exclusive interview. “In most patients, when you remove the thyroid, they’re basically okay. But what happens is the autoantibodies attack the tissues around the eyes, which causes the eyes to bulge out, Graves’ orbitopathy. Our objective is to make a molecule that absorbs the autoantibodies to reduce the impact of—initially—the orbitopathy. We think in the end we can probably treat patients with Graves’ disease, but who haven’t had their thyroids removed. It’s a novel approach and it’s an unmet medical need. Probably 20 to 30 percent of Graves’ patients get orbitopathy, and a proportion will get it even after removal of the thyroid.”

Company Leadership
Jay Lichter—president and chief executive officer of COI Pharmaceuticals, and as such, is the chief executive officer of the biotech companies under its umbrella. He is also the managing director of Avalon Ventures, and has led investments in Carolus, Otonomy , Sova and Zacharon Pharmaceuticals. He is the inventor on over 260 patent and patent applications for six Avalon portfolio companies, including 78 issued patents. Lichter has been involved in licensing or merger and acquisition deals valued in excess of $1 billion.

David Campbell—chief scientific officer. He is the chief scientific officer, small molecules, of COI Pharmaceuticals. He has over 15 years of industry experience in drug discovery and development focused on oncology and central nervous system applications of proprietary PAK inhibitors, anti-bacterial drugs, kinase inhibitors, obesity, osteoporosis, and diabetes. Campbell is also an entrepreneur in residence at Avalon Ventures.

Carmine Stengone—chief business officer, and senior vice president of business development for COI Pharmaceuticals. He has more than 14 years of experience in biopharma, including roles in finance, strategic planning, corporate development, licensing, alliance management and venture funding.

Tighe Reardon—chief financial officer and also the chief financial officer of COI Pharmaceuticals. Reardon has over 15 years of senior finance and technical tax experience ranging from startups to large public companies. Prior to joining COI, and as a result, Thyritope, Reardon was the senior vice president of tax and treasury at DJO Global, a multinational medical device company owned by Blackstone (BX).

Justin Chapman—director of biology. Chapman has more than 20 years of experience in medical research and drug discovery, including 12 in large pharma. He also serves as associate director, biology for COI Pharmaceuticals and Sova Pharmaceuticals, another Avalon Ventures portfolio company.

Patrick Daugherty—scientific founder. Daugherty is a professor of Chemical Engineering, and Biomolecular Science and Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is also the chief scientific officer of Serimmune and Silarus Therapeutics.

Company Financing
Thyritope was launched as one of several collaborations between Avalon Ventures and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). It received $10 million in a Series A financing round and research and development support from Avalon and GSK.

What to Look For
In comparison to some of the companies that have sprung out of the Avalon-GSK collaboration, Thryitope is in its very early stages. It is working to identify promising lead compounds and hopes to have some in the next couple years. Once that happens, the plan is, like with the other Avalon-GSK companies, to file an investigational new drug (IND), and be acquired by GSK, which will then take the compound into clinical development.

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