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Lassen Therapeutics Lands $85M Series B

BIOTECH: Funding Advances Monoclonal Antibody for TED

Lassen Therapeutics is starting the new year with a financial boost to fund its monoclonal antibody treatments for fibro-inflammatory diseases.

The San Diego biotech announced Dec. 19 that it had closed an oversubscribed $85 million Series B, co-led by new investor Longitude Capital and existing investor Frazier Life Sciences, who led Lassen’s $31 million Series A in 2020. Series B also included new investors BVF Partners and Catalio Capital Management as well as other existing investors, Alta Partners and Longwood Fund.

Lassen is developing first-in-class monoclonal antibodies that hit “novel targets,” said Lassen CEO Maria Fardis, Ph.D.

Proceeds from the financing will support Lassen’s LASN01 clinical program, which targets the interleukin-11 receptor (IL-11R), which in preclinical data has shown a potential benefit in orbital fibroblasts, the relevant cell type for thyroid eye disease (TED).

Maria Fardis, Ph.D.
CEO
Lassen Therapeutics

“In preclinical studies, LASN01 led to the suppression of cell proliferation and hyaluronan secretion from primary TED orbital fibroblasts, in addition to demonstrating anti-fibrotic activity demonstrated by reduction of pro-collagen. These results indicate that LASN01 has the potential to be a new therapeutic agent for the treatment of TED.”

Lassen is also exploring LASN01 as a possible treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), fibrosis in the lung.

The funds will also go toward continued development of Lassen’s LASN500 program. LASN500 targets the interleukin-18 binding protein (IL-18BP) as a potential treatment for cancer.

“Nobody has tried hitting these targets in any modality and taking them into clinic to see if these are druggable,” Fardis said, adding that these unexplored targets have “very exciting potential.”

“We’re not just developing the drug but also understanding the biology of those targets for how relevant they are in the human body,” she said.

A ‘Differentiated’ TED Treatment

Lassen is advancing the LASN01 program for the TED indication first because Phase 2 study costs are much higher for IPF and advancing the TED program would be a more cost-effective way to show the viability of the target, Fardis explained.

She added that the company also sees a potential to offer a “differentiated” treatment to existing TED treatments, such as the recently approved Tepezza developed by Horizon Therapeutics, who was acquired by Amgen for about $27.8 billion in October of last year.

“If IL-11Ris in fact a druggable target, what this means is that we now have a new antifibro-inflammatory agent with a novel mechanism, with potential activity in TED and possibly other diseases,” Fardis said. “So, there is a nice upside potential here. New mechanisms of action are needed in targeting fibro-inflammation. So, if we can offer a new mechanism of action for an antifibrotic, that is incredible progress.”

So far, Fardis said, Lassen’s preclinical testing has seen “quite a nice response in multiple endpoints.” The promising results attracted the new investors and led to the latest round of financing.

Brian Liu, M.D.
Managing Director
Longitude Capital

“We are very excited about Lassen and the opportunity to develop two first-in-class programs, one in fibro-inflammatory disorders and the other in cancer, along with the management team’s ability to expeditiously execute these programs in pursuit of new therapeutic options for patients,” said Longitude Capital Managing Director Brian Liu, M.D., who will now have a seat on Lassen’s board of directors. “We are encouraged by the progress of LASN01, the lead program at Lassen which is entering Phase 2 and is a first-in-class antibody that binds to a novel target, an important differentiator in a broad set of fibro-inflammatory indications addressing serious unmet medical needs.”

Lassen Therapeutics
Founded: 2019
CEO: Maria Fardis, Ph.D.
Headquarters: San Diego
Business: Clinical-stage biotech company developing first-in-class antibodies as potential treatments for fibro-inflammatory disorders and cancer
Funding: $116 million (Series A and B)
Employees: 26
Website: www.lassentherapeutics.com/
Contact: 858-251-7528
Notable: Preclinical studies indicate that LASN01 has the potential to be a new therapeutic agent for the treatment of TED.

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