Pharma Focus Asia

Lassen Therapeutics Launches to Discover and Develop Novel Antibody Therapeutics Including Lead Program Targeting IL-11 to Treat Fibrosis and Oncology

Thursday, June 18, 2020

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.

Founded in 2019, Lassen Therapeutics is developing LASN01, a best-in-class 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.

Lassen acquired best-in-class human anti-IL-11R monoclonal antibodies from CSL Limited (CSL), a leading global biotechnology company with its R&D facilities headquartered in Melbourne, Australia. Accessing IL-11 research and antibodies from CSL greatly accelerates Lassen’s efforts to bring a novel therapeutic candidate to patients.

Lassen is led by a team of drug developers with deep experience in antibody drug discovery and development. The company was co-founded by industry veterans Mark Barrett, Chief Executive Officer, and David King, Ph.D., who serves as Chief Scientific Officer. The Lassen team has collectively brought more than twenty antibody therapeutics into the clinic with several on the market in the areas of oncology and inflammation – experience it will use to rapidly develop LASN01 and a pipeline of novel antibodies.

“IL-11 is a novel target and blocking the IL-11 pathway represents an exciting therapeutic approach for both fibrosis and oncology,” said Mr. Barrett. “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.”

Under the agreement, Dr Andrew Nash, Senior Vice President, Research at CSL will join Lassen’s scientific advisory board. “We are pleased that Lassen will continue the development of CSL’s anti-IL-11R monoclonal antibody program,” said Dr. Nash. “We hope it will lead to better treatment options for oncology and fibrosis patients.”

Lassen has also announced a partnership with FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies (FDB) to accelerate its anti-IL-11R program. FDB has extensive industry leadership in cell culture processes including monoclonal antibody development and manufacturing. 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. “Working with leading companies such as CSL, Ltd and FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies has enabled us to rapidly advance our development programs and best-in-class novel therapies towards clinical evaluation,” said Dr. King.

Lassen was formed as part of Frazier’s company creation efforts. Frazier’s Life Sciences team builds companies developing and commercializing novel therapeutics and has started or seeded more than twenty companies since 2005. Frazier leverages its extensive relationships with pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions to identify and license assets into focused new companies with exceptional management teams.

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