Hexagon Bio to Move into Clinic with $47 Million in Series A Financing
Hexagon Bio, a California-based biotechnology company turning nature’s DNA into medicines for cancers and infectious diseases with unmet needs, will move into clinical research with $47 million in Series A financing.
The financing was led by science-driven venture capital firm The Column Group, along with contributors 8VC and Two Sigma Ventures. David Goeddel, Ph.D., Managing Partner at The Column Group, joins Hexagon as chairman of the Board of Directors.
“I am excited by Hexagon’s vision of genomics-driven discovery of secondary metabolites that target disease-driving proteins. The molecules that result from Hexagon’s platform have evolved to target specific proteins and are cell-permeable, making them excellent starting points for drug discovery,” Goeddel said in a statement.
The proteins known to cause cancer have long been considered “undruggable” by medicine’s leading minds. Hexagon disagrees, and their proprietary interdisciplinary platform combines data science, genomics, synthetic biology and automation to discover evolutionarily refined molecules and their protein targets directly from fungal genomes.
Secondary metabolites, which are small molecules produced by bacteria, fungi and plants, make up a substantial amount of the world’s most impactful therapeutics.
One of the first fungal metabolites to be isolated was the life-saving drug penicillin, and cholesterol-lowering drugs such as lovastatin are polyketide compounds produced by some fungi during their secondary metabolism.
Scientists, however, have had a difficult time translating these metabolites due to a lack of mechanistic understanding of their intended target. Hexagon aims to solve this using their proprietary algorithms to identify novel secondary metabolites, along with their therapeutic targets, from genome data, bypassing traditional screening methods.
The company will focus the new funding on further developing their proprietary genomics database of new secondary metabolites and building a drug discovery team to develop these compounds in the clinic.
Leading the drug discovery efforts will be Tod Smeal who joins Hexagon as Chief Scientific Officer.
Formerly Chief Scientific Officer of Cancer Biology and Oncology Research at Eli Lilly and Company, Smeal will draw on his 22 years of experience in research and development. His early work at SUGEN focused on the identification and validation of novel kinase targets that play a driving role in cancer. SUGEN was a drug discovery company that closed 2003 after developing successful cancer therapy, sunitinib.
While Hexagon’s primary focus is on oncology and infectious disease, the platform has the potential to be applied more broadly to immunology, cardiovascular, neurological, and metabolic disorders.