With R&D Ops in the Bay Area, Cambridge Startup Delinia Launches With $35 Million and Plans to Start Hiring

Published: Sep 14, 2016

With R&D Ops in the Bay Area, Cambridge Startup Delinia Launches With $35 Million and Plans to Start Hiring September 14, 2016
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Delinia announced today that it had closed on a Series A investment round worth $35 million. The financing was co-led by Sofinnova Partners and Atlas Venture.

Delinia, which has offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts and research facilities in San Francisco, is focused on developing targeted regulatory T-cell (Treg) therapies. The company’s protein therapeutic platform is based on research by co-founder and chief scientific officer, Jeffrey Greve.

The company’s technology targets, activates, and augments Treg levels. Tregs exist naturally in the body and participate in regulating the inflammatory response of other cells. Delinia hopes their technology balances and restores normal immune regulatory in patients with immune and autoimmune diseases, rather than the more typical treatment of broadly suppressing the immune system.

“We are excited to advance what we believe is a new paradigm for the treatment of patients with severe autoimmune disease,” said Saurabh Saha, president and chief executive officer of Delinia, and a venture partner with Atlas Venture, in a statement. “Rarely does a company have the opportunity to develop a therapy with a unique combination of compelling biology, novel mechanism of action, and clinical validation of the target.”

Most treatments for autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease, suppress the immune system, which brings on its own set of problems, notably making the patient more susceptible to other diseases. AbbVie ’s Humira (adalimumab) is an example of a drug that suppresses the immune response.

Delinia’s approach is to balance out the immune system by changing the Treg levels in the body.

The company currently has four full-time employees, but indicates with the venture funds, it plans to start adding staff.

Although the company indicates it has not picked its first clinical target, the ones it is reviewing are lupus, Type 1 diseases, and fibrotic diseases such as scleroderma.

“Of the hundreds (of proposed projects) I’ve seen,” Saha told Endpoints News, “this is the most promising in changing the paradigm, in a way that’s very natural.”

Before joining Delinia, Saha was chief medical officer at Synlogic. Prior to that he was president, chief scientific officer, and a board member at BioMed Valley Discoveries. He was also previously the global head of New Indications Discovery Unit at Novartis .

In addition to Saha, the company’s board chairman is Jeffrey Tong, entrepreneur in residence at Third Rock Ventures, Henrijette Richter, a partner at Sofinnova is a board member, and David Grayzel, a partner at Atlas, is also a board member.

The company has also put together a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), which includes Michael Rosenblum, who is also a company co-founder, and assistant professor of Dermatology at the UCSF School of Medicine, who is chair. Also on the SAB are Abul Abbas, Distinguished Professor of Pathology, and chair of Pathology at the UCSF School of Medicine, Christophe Benoist, Grove-Rasmussen Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Harvard Medical School, Jerome Ritz, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, as well as executive director of the Connell O’Reilly Cell Manipulation and Gene Transfer Laboratory, and David Wofsy, Professor of Medicine and Microbiology/Immunology at the UCSF School of Medicine.

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