South San Francisco, CA., May 25, 2022 (BUSINESS WIRE) –Terremoto Biosciences, a biotechnology company leveraging the power of lysine-based covalency to develop optimized medicines, today announced it has raised $75 million in a Series A financing. The round was co-led by OrbiMed and Third Rock Ventures. Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance Terremoto’s lysine-targeted covalency platform and develop best-in-class therapies against known drug targets, as well as first-in-class medicines against the previously undruggable.
“At Terremoto Biosciences, we are harnessing covalent chemistry to develop small molecule medicines that are more specific, potent and overall superior for patients with a range of devastating, highly complex diseases.”
“At Terremoto Biosciences, we are harnessing covalent chemistry to develop small molecule medicines that are more specific, potent and overall superior for patients with a range of devastating, highly complex diseases,” said Peter Thompson, M.D., co-founder, CEO and board member of Terremoto Biosciences, as well as general partner at OrbiMed. “Lysine-targeted covalent chemistry can be thought of as ‘a game of dynamic Tetris,’ due to the level of chemical and biological mastery required to covalently bind to this amino acid in a selective, on-target way. Terremoto is redefining what was once thought of as scientifically impossible with our well-defined platform approach and unrivaled team. With the Series A financing in hand, we will continue to build upon the foundational advancements in our lysine-based covalency technology to dramatically expand the universe of drug targets, as well as significantly improve upon existing medicines for the patients who need them most.”
Unlocking Lysine-based Covalency and Expanding the Drug Universe
Terremoto leverages its covalent drug discovery and development engine to create highly targeted, small molecule medicines for a broad spectrum of severe diseases, including cancer. Due to the high energy and affinity of covalent bonds, covalent therapies offer enhanced inhibitory profiles that can deactivate mutated proteins for extended periods of time, without the extended toxicity.
Historically, covalent medicines have relied on binding to the amino acid cysteine, which is uncommon in proteins, thus limiting the number of potential drug targets. Terremoto is discovering and developing drugs that covalently bind to lysine – an amino acid that is ubiquitous across the proteome and present in nearly every protein of interest. While the abundance of lysine has previously prevented the field from developing medicines that are sufficiently selective and targeted, Terremoto is leveraging breakthroughs in novel chemistry and biology to overcome these historic hurdles and broaden the covalent drug alphabet.
Terremoto’s lysine-targeted covalency platform enables the team to pursue a wide breadth of protein targets, ranging from validated receptors to the historically undruggable. The platform utilizes structure-based drug design, screening platform development, cryo-electron microscopy, X-ray crystallography, electrophilic warhead library development and a computational discovery engine. This approach has the potential to create medicines that are longer-lasting, more efficacious and more tolerable.
“Terremoto is built on groundbreaking science, and the team is working to translate this science into medicines capable of transforming patients’ lives,” said Reid Huber, Ph.D., board member of Terremoto and partner at Third Rock Ventures. “Cancer therapies such as osimertinib and ibrutinib demonstrate the value of covalent therapeutics to patients. Terremoto’s lysine-targeted covalency approach builds on these advancements and is poised to broaden the opportunity set where covalent chemistry can be applied, ultimately ushering in a new era in small molecule drug discovery.”
A Team of World-class Founders, Chemists, Biologists and Drug Developers
Many members of Terremoto’s leadership team helped found the lysine-targeted covalent chemistry field. The team is led by co-founder and CEO Dr. Thompson, a general partner at OrbiMed and founder of biotechnology companies including Trubion Pharmaceuticals, Corvus Pharmaceuticals, Silverback Therapeutics and Edgewise Therapeutics. Additional co-founders include: Matt Jacobson, Ph.D., professor and chair in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at UCSF, and co-founder of Relay Therapeutics and Global Blood Therapeutics – the latter of which developed the only approved drug that covalently bonds to an amine on the hemoglobin molecule; and Jack Taunton, Ph.D., professor in cellular molecular pharmacology at UCSF and co-founder of Principia Biopharma, Cedilla Therapeutics, Kezar Life Sciences and Global Blood Therapeutics.
“With recent advances in chemical proteomics and computational chemistry, this the ideal time to pursue covalent drugs that target nucleophilic amino acids beyond cysteine,” said Dr. Taunton. “I’m incredibly excited to work closely alongside Terremoto’s team of creative and experienced drug hunters as we strive to advance a new type of medicine.”
Terremoto’s scientific advisory board includes: Reid Huber, Ph.D., partner at Third Rock and founding member of the scientific team at Incyte; Kevin Koch, Ph.D., founder of Array Biopharma and Edgewise Therapeutics and regarded as one of the top chemists in the industry; and John Link, Ph.D., world-renowned chemist, former vice president of medicinal chemistry at Gilead Sciences and co-inventor of multiple approved therapies for hepatitis, as well as an HIV capsid inhibitor currently in clinical development..
Terremoto’s board of directors includes Dr. Huber, Dr. Koch, Dr. Taunton, Dr. Thompson and Jeffrey Tong, Ph.D., partner at Third Rock Ventures.