What You Need to Know About True North Therapeutics

What You Need to Know About True North Therapeutics
December 2, 2015
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Founded in 2013, True North Therapeutics is developing therapies that selectively inhibit a part of the immune system known as the complement system in order to treat diseases of unmet clinical need. The company is advancing a pipeline of novel monoclonal antibodies for complement-mediated rare diseases in the hematologic, kidney transplant, and skin therapeutic areas.

The company is a spinout of iPierian, which applied human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to model neurodegenerative diseases. iPierian and its lead antibody program against Tau for the treatment of progressive supranuclear palsy and Alzheimer’s disease was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb in April 2014 for $725 million.

Currently, True North’s antibodies are focused on treating a type of kidney transplant rejection and rare blood diseases such as cold agglutinin disease. The complement pathway is linked to inflammation in a number of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s.

True North is the first company to harness the power of selective targeting of the ‘classical complement’ pathway to address rare diseases that have no approved therapies and few, if any, treatment options,” company chief executive Nancy Stagliano said in an April 2015 statement.

Company Leadership
Nancy Stagliano—chief executive officer and co-founder. Prior to founding True North, Stagliano was chief executive officer of iPierian. Prior to iPierian, she was chief executive and co-founder of CytomX Therapeutics and a lead inventor on the patents for CytomX’s Probody platform.

James Gilbert—chief medical officer. Prior to True North, Gilbert was chief medical officer at Cardioxyl and Archemix. He was also a consulting clinical advisor in the biotech industry. He also served as senior vice president of Clinical Development for Cardiovascular and Inflammation at Millennium Pharmaceuticals.

Adam Rosenthal—vice president of corporate development. Previously he was vice president of corporate development at iPierian.

Graham Parry—senior director of translational research. Prior to joining True North, Parry was senior director of translational research at iPierian. Before that, he was director of biology at Attenuon.

Company Financing
In April 2014, True North closed on a Series B financing round worth $35 million, and in June 2014 closed on a Series A round worth $22 million. The Series B will be used to advance multiple pipeline candidates, including the broad clinical program for its lead drug candidate, TNT009. The Series B was led by OrbiMed, with participation from existing investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, MPM Capital, SR One, and Baxter Ventures.

On Dec. 3, 2015, the company announced that it had closed on a Series C financing round worth $40 million. This round was led by New Leaf Venture Partners, joined by new investors Perceptive Advisors and Cowen Private Investments. Existing investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, MPM Capital, OrbiMed, SR One, and Baxalta Ventures also jumped in. As part of this round, Isaac Manke, partner at New Leaf Venture Partners, will join True North’s board of directors.

True North’s lead product is TNT009, a first-in-class molecule that selectively targets classical complement pathway blockade by inhibiting C1s, a serine protease within the C1-complex in the complement pathway of the immune system. A Phase Ia study was initiated in the second quarter of 2015 and a Phase IIb by the end of 2015.

Market Competition
Competitors include Compliment Corporation in Seattle, Wash., and Aurin Biotech in Vancouver, British Columbia. Aurin has five complement-inhibiting agents in its pipeline, only one of which has made it out of discovery to preclinical development.

Although True North doesn’t appear to be working directly in the immuno-oncology market, its complement work has potential applications in this area. Numerous companies are working in this broader area, Checkmate Pharmaceuticals, CRISPR Therapeutics as well as numerous large drug companies.

What to Look For
With the initiation of Phase I clinical studies in mid-to-late 2015, some data is likely to be released in 2016, with possible initiation of Phase II studies. With additional products in its pipeline, it’s possible there will be additional movement into clinical studies with other products as well.

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