Lassen Therapeutics announced it has emerged from stealth and secured $31 million in Series A financing to develop antibodies as potential treatments for fibrosis, rare diseases and oncology. The Series A financing was led by Frazier Healthcare Partners (Frazier) with participation from Alta Partners and Longwood Fund.
Lassen acquired best-in-class human anti-IL-11R monoclonal antibodies from CSL Limited (CSL). The company’s lead candidate is LASN-01, a monoclonal antibody targeting IL-11 receptor alpha (IL-11R). IL-11, a member of the IL-6 family of cytokines, is a central mediator of fibrosis and blocking its activity has the potential to be more effective than targeting other factors such as TGF-β and CTGF. IL-11 is also a pivotal effector of tumor microenvironment organization and tumor growth, playing a key role as a mediator between cancer and stromal cells.
“IL-11 is a novel target and blocking the IL-11 pathway represents an exciting therapeutic approach for both fibrosis and oncology,” said Mark Barrett, Chief Executive Officer of Lassen Therapeutics. “Inhibition of this previously unexplored pathway has the potential to make a major impact on the course of a number of fibrotic diseases. Targeting IL-11 may also present a strategy to inhibit tumor proliferation and alter the structure of the tumor microenvironment to allow more effective cancer therapies.”
Lassen anticipates submitting an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the U.S. FDA in 2021 with a goal of launching a clinical trial in 2021 with safety results by 2022. The funds raised are expected to support the company until the end of the Phase I trial, when additional funds will need to be raised.
Lassen also announced a partnership with FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies (FDB) to accelerate its anti-IL-11R program. The LASN01 program is leveraging FDB’s high throughput cell culture platform which is based on advanced, single-use technologies to streamline and accelerate production of high-quality drug substance for clinical trials.