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Financing › Details

Disco Pharmaceuticals–SEVERAL: investment, 202401 seed financing round €20m led by Sofinnova Partners


Period Period 2024-01-16
Organisations Money taker Disco Pharmaceuticals GmbH
  Group Disco Pharmaceuticals (Group)
  Money source SEVERAL
Products Product drug target identification
  Product 2 venture capital
Persons Person Bhaman, Maina (Sofinnova Partners 201810 before Imperial Innovations 201411 Director of Healthcare Ventures)
  Person 2 Liechtenstein, Therese Maria (Merck (DE) 202004 at M Ventures)

Disco Pharmaceuticals GmbH. (1/16/24). "Press Release: Disco Pharmaceuticals Launches as the Surfaceome Company with EUR 20 Million in Seed Financing". Cologne & Zurich.

> Transformative surfaceome discovery technology enables a comprehensive map of the cancer cell surface to identify a multitude of novel druggable targets.

> Pipeline programs in Small Cell Lung Cancer and Microsatellite-Stable Colorectal Cancer.

> Experienced team of individuals with expertise in surface proteomics and oncology from academia, biotech and pharma, led by CEO Roman Thomas.

> Leading biopharma executives Dieter Weinand (previously CEO at Bayer Pharmaceuticals) and Carsten Reinhardt (CDO at Immatics), join the DISCO Board of Directors as Chairman and Independent Director, respectively.

DISCO Pharmaceuticals ("DISCO"), a specialist biotech unlocking the surfaceome of cancer cells at scale to identify new targets and develop first in class drugs, emerges from stealth today. The Company, operating out of Cologne, Germany and Schlieren, Switzerland, successfully raised seed financing of EUR 20 million and is backed by a world leading investor syndicate, including Sofinnova Partners, which led the round, Panakes Partners, M Ventures and AbbVie Ventures.

The development of new treatment modalities in oncology is growing at an ever-increasing rate, but the lack of cancer-specific cell surface targets limits the application to a few clinically effective targets. The development of new biologics, such as antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and bi-specific antibodies, is on the rise; however, there are currently less than 30 molecular targets which form the basis of all antibody-based therapies. Therefore, there is a significant need to identify novel cancer-specific targets and target pairs.

DISCO's pioneering surfaceome mapping platform transforms the current approach of target discovery for large molecule R&D. The technology identifies proteins and protein communities across the entire cancer cell surface in a scalable manner, thus addressing the need for target candidates for both mono- and bi-specific antibodies. These insights enable the development of a multitude of cancer-specific therapies, with the potential to boost efficacy and reduce side effects for patients. DISCO has started to create an internal pipeline of novel anti-cancer therapeutics leveraging this knowledge.

DISCO has completed the first-ever map of the surfaceome of a cancer type, Small Cell Lung Cancer, (SCLC) and is developing proprietary antibody-based treatments for SCLC, which has historically been difficult to treat. DISCO is currently working on Microsatellite-Stable Colorectal Cancer, which is associated with a high unmet medical need and for which only a few treatment options are available. The Company's pipeline includes further undisclosed programs.

DISCO was spun out of ETH Zürich, with founders from ETH, the University of Cologne and Stanford University, and was founded in May 2022 by Prof. Roman Thomas, Dr. Johannes Heuckmann, Prof. Bernd Wollscheid and Prof. Julien Sage. The founders have a deep understanding of surface proteomics, cancer biology and drug discovery, and a track record of value creation. Dr. Stefan Ries, who has previously held leadership positions at Roche and was a venture partner at Versant Ventures, joins DISCO as Chief Scientific Officer. The DISCO team is complemented by a world leading group of scientific advisors.

In addition to the experienced Board of Directors from the investor syndicate, Dieter Weinand will join as Chairman of the Board. Dieter Weinand was previously the CEO of Bayer Pharmaceuticals and has held leadership positions at Pfizer, BMS and Sanofi. He currently serves on the Board of Coya Therapeutics (NASDAQ: COYA), as Chairman of the Boards of Replimune (NASDAQ: REPL), Umoja, and Inspirna, and as Executive Chairman of Mnemo Therapeutics. Furthermore, Carsten Reinhardt, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Development Officer at Immatics (NASDAQ: IMTX), joins the DISCO Board as an Independent Director. Previously, he was EVP and Chief Medical Officer at Micromet Inc, International Medical Leader at Hoffmann-La Roche, and has been serving as a director on supervisory boards to a variety of biopharma companies.

Roman Thomas, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, at DISCO Pharmaceuticals, said: "Today, we are launching DISCO Pharmaceuticals and its breakthrough technology after a decade of research by our exceptional team. We believe that our surfaceome discovery technology is truly disruptive and will transform oncology treatment options and ultimately improve outcomes for patients. The surfaceome mapping in Small Cell Lung Cancer – that we completed within months – has validated our technology platform and approach, demonstrating its potential, and we look forward to applying it to different indications."

Maina Bhaman, Partner at Sofinnova Partners, added: "DISCO is uniquely positioned to transform cancer care. The team, which brings together individuals with diverse backgrounds from academia, biotech and pharma, combined with its unique surfaceome discovery technology, enables comprehensive target information which neither standard proteomics, nor genome or transcriptome sequencing can provide."

Dieter Weinand, newly appointed Chairman of the DISCO Board of Directors, commented: "Expanding the possible target space in oncology has been a bottleneck in the industry for decades. I am thrilled to be working with the truly exceptional people at DISCO as I firmly believe that they will be able to overcome this hurdle by using their disruptive surfaceome discovery engine.

About DISCO Pharmaceuticals

DISCO Pharma, operating out of Cologne, Germany and Schlieren, Switzerland, employs a disruptive scalable technology to map the surfaceome of cancer cells and develop first-in-class cancer drugs. With the advent of new cell-surface, target-directed therapeutic modalities (including ADCs and bi-specific antibodies), it is critical to ramp up the discovery of meaningful targets. DISCO does so by comprehensively identifying druggable targets, as well as protein communities (i.e., different proteins that form nanoscale organizations on a cell), across the entire cancer cell surface at scale, thus uncovering crucial new information that neither genome nor transcriptome sequencing can provide. By knowing which proteins are truly present on the cell surface, and how they are associated within protein communities, DISCO can design highly specific binders, boosting expected efficacy and reducing side effects.

DISCO has a highly experienced team with a strong track record in cancer drug discovery and entrepreneurial value creation, as well as a deep understanding of surface proteomics born out of ETH in Zurich and developed further within the Company. DISCO is backed by world leading life sciences investors including Sofinnova Partners, Panakes Partners, M Ventures and AbbVie Ventures.

Record changed: 2024-02-21


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