Outrun Therapeutics launches with a $10m seed financing from M Ventures and MP Healthcare Venture Management to develop a protein stabilisation pipeline

     

      • Proprietary E3 ligase platform to enable protein stabilisation “at source”, thereby restoring the body’s sophisticated natural disease suppression processes

      • Platform scales the assessment of E3 ligase targets while addressing the historic challenges of drugging these targets

      • Pipeline of first-in-class, small molecule, E3 ligase inhibitors to stabilise proteins and treat disease in several therapeutic areas, including cancer and neurology

      • Lead programme focused on hard-to-treat solid tumours

      • Originates from the lab of Prof Satpal Virdee at the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit at the University of Dundee

    DUNDEE, Scotland , April 18, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Outrun Therapeutics (“Outrun”), the E3 ligase inhibitor and protein stabilisation specialist, today exits from stealth following a $10m seed financing round. Outrun’s platform has enabled it to rapidly build a pipeline of highly selective, small molecule, first-in-class E3 ligase inhibitors, as well as identify novel E3 ligase targets across multiple disease areas. Outrun’s lead programme is focused on hard-to-treat solid tumours.

    E3 ligase inhibition in protein stabilisation is of very high interest as a therapeutic approach to treating many diseases. Cells have evolved highly sophisticated ways of keeping disease at bay, and empowering the body to take care of itself is potentially the most effective way of suppressing disease. Inhibiting targeted E3 ligases enables protein stabilisation “at source”, being directly part of the tagging mechanism involved in healthy cellular processing of destabilised, unwanted, or mis-formed proteins. This restores the body’s sophisticated natural disease suppression processes and could be applicable to a wide range of indications, including oncology and neurology.

    Selective protein stabilisation by inhibiting specific E3 ligases will expand the disease indications that can be addressed with protein stabilisation and minimise side effects. There are ~700 E3 ligases representing the vast number of discrete cellular processes they control, providing potential targets for Outrun to develop effective precision medicines against.

    Outrun has developed a proprietary, high throughput platform which allows robust, highly accurate, quantitative assessment of the specificity and selectivity of E3 ligase targets, thereby dramatically reducing the discovery time for E3 ligase inhibitors, improving specificity and target binding. Furthermore, the platform uses engineered protein sensors (EPS) to uncover the detailed biochemistry of E3 ligases, enabling discovery of drugs with potentially superior binding, specificity, and activity. Outrun’s approach is a scalable and modular strategy for developing next-generation small molecule drugs targeting E3 ligases, particularly inhibitors that stabilise proteins.

    Dr Carolyn Porter, Chief Executive Officer of Outrun Therapeutics, said: “Protein stabilisation is the mirror image of protein degradation and seeks to maintain the levels of critical proteins that are otherwise unbalanced in certain diseases, disrupting the body’s highly sophisticated natural disease suppression processes. We are bringing our world class knowledge of E3 ligase biology and protein-to-protein interactions, combined with our proprietary discovery platform, to unlock the potential of this exciting new therapeutic area.”

    Dr Jeffrey Moore, President at MP Healthcare Venture Management, commented: “We believe protein stabilisation via E3 ligase inhibition is a potentially powerful new therapeutic modality. With world leading research under the guidance of a talented management team, we are confident that Outrun has the potential to transform a variety of disease areas, such as oncology and neurology.”

    Dr Bauke Anninga, Investment Director at M Ventures, added: “We are delighted to be one of the founding investors of Outrun. The Company’s novel platform enabling rapid assessment of the specificity and selectivity of E3 ligase inhibitors, provides a highly competitive edge to reduce discovery timelines and build a first in class pipeline.”

    Led by a seasoned management team and a strong Board, Outrun was spun out of founder Prof. Satpal Virdee’s world-renowned MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit at the University of Dundee. Outrun’s Scientific Advisory Board consists of highly relevant, world-leading experts in ubiquitylation and oncology. Outrun is backed by leading venture capital investors M Ventures and MP Healthcare Venture Management.

    About Outrun Therapeutics

    Outrun Therapeutics is unlocking the therapeutic potential of protein stabilisation by E3 ligase inhibition to maintain levels of critical proteins that are otherwise destabilised in certain diseases, disrupting the body’s highly sophisticated natural disease suppression processes. Blocking E3 ligase activity enables protein stabilisation “at source” compared to other approaches. It is directly part of the tagging mechanism used by healthy cells to destabilise proteins that are dispensable or mis-formed. Protein stabilisation could be applicable to a wide range of indications, including oncology and neurology.

    Despite the very high interest in E3 ligases as a therapeutic target, they have been challenging to drug. This is a roadblock that Outrun is addressing through its world class knowledge of E3 ligase biology and its proprietary discovery platform, which simplifies and dramatically scales the assessment of E3 ligase targets, thereby significantly reducing discovery time. Furthermore, the platform’s elegant engineered protein sensor (EPS) screen is enabling Outrun to build a pipeline of highly valuable, small molecule, first-in-class, E3 ligase inhibitors to prevent protein degradation, as well as identify novel E3 ligase targets involved in a range of diseases.

    Outrun’s lead programme is a small molecule inhibitor targeting an E3 ligase that destabilises a tumour suppressor protein in hard-to-treat solid tumours.

    Spun out of founder Prof. Satpal Virdee’s lab at the world-renowned MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit at the University of Dundee, Outrun is led by a seasoned management team with a strong track record in creating robust biopharma businesses. It is backed by M Ventures and MP Healthcare Venture Management. For more information, see: https://outruntx.com

    About M Ventures

    M Ventures is the strategic, corporate venture capital arm of science and technology company, Merck. From its headquarters in Germany and offices in the Netherlands, USA and Israel, M Ventures invests globally in transformational ideas driven by innovative entrepreneurs. Taking an active role in its portfolio companies, M Ventures teams up with management teams and co-investors to translate scientific discoveries into commercial success. M Ventures focuses on identifying and financing novel solutions to some of the most difficult challenges, through company creation and equity investments in fields that will impact the vitality and sustainability of Merck’s current and future businesses. For more information, see http://www.m-ventures.com/.

    About MP Healthcare Venture Management, Inc.

    MP Healthcare Venture Management, Inc. (“MPH”) is a Boston-based life sciences venture capital firm in the United States that invests in innovative companies developing new therapies, platform technologies, and vaccines. MPH supports business activities by investing in domestic and overseas seeds and early-stage startups. MPH is Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Group’s corporate venture capital business. For more information, see https://www.mp-healthcare.com/.

    SOURCE Outrun Therapeutics

    Original press release can be found here.

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