Type of information: Series A financing round
Company: CODA Biotherapeutics (USA - CA)
Investors: MPM Capital (USA - MA) Versant Ventures (USA - CA) Astellas Venture Management (USA - CA) Novartis (Switzerland)
Amount: $19 million
Funding type: series A financing round
- CODA Biotherapeutics is a preclinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing a chemogenetic gene therapy platform for the treatment of intractable diseases. This platform aims to control the activity of neurons and other cells to treat diseases. With chemogenetics, the goal is to modify a target cell population using gene therapy to express a tunable “switch” protein. Cells modified with the “switch” can be activated or inactivated in a dose-dependent manner by a subsequently administered small molecule therapeutic, an effect that should only occur in the modified cells.
- CODA’s first clinical application is aimed at the management of chronic neuropathic pain. The company is developing engineered neurotransmitter receptors that are activated exclusively by orally bioavailable drugs to control the activity of hyperexcitable neurons responsible for chronic neuropathic pain. The gene encoding the receptor is delivered to dysfunctional neurons by proprietary viral vectors that are optimized for robust and targeted gene transfer. Standard neurosurgical procedures are used to administer these viral vectors directly to the neurons to be controlled. Once expressed, the engineered receptor can be activated by the drug to modulate neuronal activity. This enables the selective, tunable and reversible regulation of the receptor – and hence cellular activity – based on the dosing regimen of the drug. CODA’s technology uses receptors that have been engineered to have exquisite sensitivity for the pharmacological activator, and therefore should dramatically limit off-target side effects that plague many pharmaceutical treatments.
- • On September 12, 2018, CODA Biotherapeutics debuted with a $19 million Series A financing. Lead investors MPM Capital and Versant Ventures were joined by Astellas Venture Management and Novartis. To lead the advancement of this powerful platform with an initial focus on neurological diseases, industry veteran Michael Narachi, M.S., MBA, joined the company as president and chief executive officer (CEO) and will serve on CODA’s Board of Directors.
- CODA’s Board of Directors includes Mr. Narachi, Drs. Finer and Woiwode, and Todd Foley, MBA, managing director, MPM Capital. Board observers include Ricardo Dolmetsch, Ph.D., global head of neuroscience, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research; Shinichiro Fuse, Ph.D., principal, MPM Capital; Shunichiro Matsumoto, Ph.D., MBA, president, Astellas Venture Management; and Graham Walmsley, M.D., Ph.D., principal, Versant Ventures.
- Prior to joining CODA, Mr. Narachi served as CEO and director at Orexigen Therapeutics. Previously, he was at Amgen for more than 20 years where he held key leadership roles of increasing responsibility in preclinical and clinical development and clinical operations in the U.K., Japan and U.S., and business development, strategic planning, product strategy and commercial businesses in the U.S. Mr. Narachi is currently a member of the Board of Directors for Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical and for the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). Previously, he served on the Boards of Directors for PhRMA, Celladon (Chairman), Naryx (Executive Chairman), REN Pharma (CEO and Chairman) and AMAG (Chairman). He received a B.S. and M.S. in genetics from the University of California (UC), Davis, and an MBA from the Anderson School of Management, UC, Los Angeles.
Therapeutic area: Neurological diseases - CNS diseases