TORONTO – Bright Angel Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focused on developing novel antifungal drugs, today announced an extension to their seed financing round, adding funding that will enable continued advancement of their lead program targeting invasive and drug-resistant fungal infections.
Lumira Ventures, Canada’s largest and most active healthcare venture capital firm, and Viva BioInnovator, the specialized investment and incubation arm of Shanghai- based Viva Biotech Holdings, participated in the new financing. They join co-founder and partner Schrödinger and seed investors Toronto Innovation Acceleration Partners (formerly MaRS Innovation) and adMare BioInnovations. Both Benjamin Rovinski, PhD, Managing Director of Lumira Ventures, and Matthew Carlyle, CFO of adMare, will join Bright Angel’s Board of Directors.
Due largely to the scarcity of fungal-specific targets, to date there are only a handful of approved drugs to treat invasive fungal infections. To overcome the difficulty associated with designing fungal selective compounds when a human homolog exists, Bright Angel Therapeutics has found a way to address this challenge via the use of the Schrödinger platform to design fungal-specific compounds. The company’s lead program targets the fungal Heat Shock Protein 90 (Hsp90) which has been shown to be central to the emergence and maintenance of fungal drug resistance.
“Bright Angel Therapeutics is committed to developing novel drugs to combat the risk of a public health crisis posed by drug-resistant fungal infections, and we’re delighted to welcome Lumira and Viva to our team as we pursue this urgent mission. The magnitude of the global health threat we’re facing is clear from the fact that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently added Candida auris and azole-resistant Aspergillus fumigatus to their Antibiotic Resistance Threats Report; they join drug-resistant Candida on the list of urgent public health challenges.”
– Dominic Jaikaran, PhD, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bright Angel Therapeutics
“We’re proud to team up with Bright Angel to find solutions to drug-resistant fungal infections. It’s vital that we develop new medicines to treat these deadly infections, and this funding will move our partnered programs closer to the clinic — and closer to the patients who need them,” said Ramy Farid, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Schrödinger.
“There is a growing urgency to develop desperately needed new antifungal drugs to combat emerging drug-resistant fungal infections, and Bright Angel is addressing that critical unmet medical need through a very innovative and differentiated approach,” said Dr. Benjamin Rovinski, Managing Director of Lumira Ventures. “As a lead investor, we are committed to work with the company and its partners to develop the next generation of antifungal drugs.”
Dr. Zhixiong Ye, Chief Scientific Officer of Viva Biotech, said: “Bright Angel is developing fungal-selective inhibitors of Hsp90 as a new treatment strategy for life-threatening invasive fungal infections. The first-in-class compounds being developed by Bright Angel are designed to enhance the efficacy of all three major classes of current antifungal drugs and thwart resistance to them by targeting a fundamental mechanism in fungi that enables resistance to arise.”
“Congratulations to Bright Angel and its team on achieving this milestone, and for their progress in tackling this global unmet medical need. We are excited to be a partner in advancing this Canadian company by not only providing financial support, but also through past medicinal chemistry support which was critical in the early days of the company,” said Gordon C. McCauley, President and Chief Executive Officer of adMare BioInnovations.
“It is gratifying to see local startups attract interest and investments from around the world,” added Dr. Rafi Hofstein, CEO of TIAP and Chair of Bright Angel. “This latest capital infusion from Viva BioInnovator and Lumira Ventures is a very good harbinger of the maturity of the science output from the innovation partnership community in Toronto and shows that local venture building is financially viable and on the global investment map.”
About Bright Angel Therapeutics
Bright Angel Therapeutics is a Toronto-based, pre-clinical company committed to developing new drugs to address the growing global public health crisis of antifungal resistance. The company’s discovery efforts are focused on molecules that inhibit stress response pathways that are believed to be central to the emergence of fungal resistance. Bright Angel was co-founded by Schrödinger and is leveraging the Schrödinger computational platform to design potent and fungal-selective inhibitors. Other co-founders include Toronto Innovation Acceleration Partners (formerly MaRS Innovation), a nonprofit supporting the commercialization of research breakthroughs from Toronto’s leading academic institutions; Dr. Leah Cowen, Professor and Chair, Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, co-Director CIFAR Fungal Kingdom: Threats & Opportunities Program, and Chief Scientific Officer, Bright Angel Therapeutics; and company consultant Dr. Luke Whitesell.
Dominic Jaikaran, Ph.D., MBA, President & CEO, Bright Angel Therapeutics