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Photys Therapeutics Debuts with $75 Million Series A Funding to Advance New Class of Bifunctional Molecules for Precision Phosphorylation to Modulate and Repair Disease-Driving Proteins

- Phosphorylation-inducing chimeric small molecules (PHICS) are a new class of bifunctional medicines that direct and repair aberrant and dysfunctional proteins

- PHICS enable precise phosphorylation, an important post-translational modification that controls protein function, including activation, stabilization, trafficking, inactivation, and degradation

- Led by a strong foundational management team of respected industry veterans with deep experience in successful drug discovery and corporate development

BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Photys Therapeutics, the pioneer in the development of phosphorylation-inducing chimeric small molecule medicines (PHICS), founded by Longwood Fund and Dr. Amit Choudhary of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, today announced a $75 million Series A financing led by MPM Capital and joined by Omega Funds, Longwood, 8VC, Arkin Bio, Mass General Brigham Ventures, MRL Ventures Fund, the therapeutics-focused corporate venture fund of Merck & Co., Eli Lilly and Company, and Heritage Medical Systems. Through induced proximity, PHICS enhance the pairing of specific kinases, the enzymes responsible for protein phosphorylation, with disease target proteins, unlocking a new approach to treatment of underserved diseases.

“Many current chimeric and bifunctional modalities focus on protein degradation, which limits their range of addressable diseases,” said Edward Holson, PhD, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Photys. “Photys expands this functionality, using PHICS to recruit kinases and induce phosphorylation, a key post-translational modification that controls many protein functions, including activation, stabilization, localization, trafficking, degradation, and inactivation.”

“The foundational biology of kinases is well-understood, and decades of screening has yielded potent kinase binders,” said Brian Fenton, Chief Executive Officer. “Our approach builds on this foundation and leverages the diversity of kinase function towards treating cancer and other critical immune, metabolic, and rare diseases.”

“Dr. Choudhary’s transformational research has provided Photys with a roadmap to expand the native function of kinases to treat disease,” said David Steinberg, Chairman and Founding CEO of Photys, and General Partner at Longwood Fund. “We look forward to building on his unique insights to establish a broad pipeline of therapeutics that can potentially enhance and extend the lives of patients.”

Dr. Lizzie Ngo, Longwood Fund Principal, acted as a co-founder alongside Dr. Choudhary, Mr. Steinberg, and Dr. Holson. Dr. Ngo and Mr. Steinberg also joined the Board of Directors along Luke Evnin, PhD, co-founder and Managing Director of MPM Capital; Alon Lazarus, PhD, Investment Manager, Arkin Bio; Briggs Morrison, MD, President, Head of R&D, and board member at Syndax Pharmaceuticals and Executive Partner at MPM Capital; and Otello Stampacchia, PhD, founder of Omega Funds.

Dr. Holson is a co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of Photys. Dr. Holson has worked in drug discovery for over 20 years as a scientist, founding director, CSO and scientific advisor across multiple organizations, including Amathus Therapeutics, Atlas Venture, KDAc Therapeutics, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and Merck & Co.

Brian Fenton was named President and CEO of Photys in September of this year and brings over three decades of biopharma leadership experience. He previously served as Chief Business Officer at Translate Bio and spent several years working in the Rare Disease Business Development Group at Shire Pharmaceuticals. He has successfully identified, led, and executed multiple strategic transactions during his career in corporate development. Mr. Fenton earned his BA in Biochemistry from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MS in Chemical Engineering from University of Virginia, and MBA at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The Photys Scientific Advisory Board consists of scientific founder Dr. Amit Choudhary; Eric Fischer, PhD, Independent Investigator at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Tony Hunter, PhD, Professor and Renato Dulbecco Chair in Cancer Research at the Salk Institute; Angela Koehler, PhD, Associate Professor of Biological Engineering, Koch Institute, Institute Fellow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Co-Director of the Swanson Biotechnology Center High-Throughput Screening Facility; Dan Nomura, PhD, Professor of Chemical Biology in the Departments of Chemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology, and Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology at the University of California, Berkeley and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at UCSF; and Wendy Young, PhD, Executive Partner at MPM Capital.

About Photys Therapeutics

Photys Therapeutics, founded by Longwood Fund and Dr. Amit Choudhary of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, is advancing Phosphorylation Inducing Chimeric Small Molecules (PHICS), a proprietary new class of bifunctional medicines that direct and repair protein phosphorylation to treat a range of diseases including cancer, immune, metabolic, and rare diseases.

Post-translational modifications, particularly phosphorylation, are ubiquitous throughout the human proteome and play a central role in cellular function. Through induced proximity, PHICS enhance the pairing of specific kinases, the enzymes responsible for protein phosphorylation, with disease target proteins. PHICS can induce precise phosphorylation at native and/or non-native sites, modulating key functions including activation, stabilization, trafficking, localization, phospho-antigen presentation, inactivation, degradation and interactions of proteins. Harnessing well-established biology and chemistry in kinases and bifunctionals in new ways, the PHICS approach unlocks diverse classes of targets.


Mariesa Kemble

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Last Updated: 08-Sep-2022