Paragon births Apogee to address unmet need in immunology/inflammatory space
Published: Dec 07, 2022
By Heather McKenzie
Apogee Therapeutics sprang onto the immunology/inflammatory scene Wednesday heavy on capital but light on salient pipeline details.
The first spinout from Paragon Therapeutics, Apogee emerged from stealth on the strength of an oversubscribed $149 million Series B financing co-led by Deep Track Capital and RTW Investments. Fairmount and Venrock Healthcare Capital Partners formed Apogee earlier this year with $20 million in Series A funds.
Fairmount originally formed Paragon in 2021 to serve as the firm’s discovery engine for best-in-class biologics. The company’s management team comprises executives with substantial experience in biotherapeutics and antibody discovery.
While Apogee CEO Michael Henderson, M.D. declined to share the mechanism of action behind the new company’s lead asset, APG777, or its intended target, he did say that Apogee is building antibodies from scratch.
“We are going to build brand new, novel antibodies that will provide a meaningful step change to what these patients currently have,” Henderson told BioSpace, adding that the development pathways the company is targeting are “very well-established.”
They will attack the targets systematically, he said.
“We’re not truly agnostic to indication or therapeutic area, but we found a cluster of assets that seem to go together well,” Evan Thompson, Paragon chief operating officer, told BioSpace.
Around the same time, Paragon was introduced to Henderson.
“It sort of hit that critical mass criteria for, now is the time to get a company started around this,” Thompson said. “That was really the impetus for putting Apogee together.”
The company’s strategic mission is to apply Paragon’s antibody engineering and technology to create a suite of antibodies with potentially best-in-class profiles targeting the highest unmet needs.
“While there have been strong improvements in the options for patients living with inflammatory and immunological disorders, significant gaps remain,” Henderson said. “There is this ability now with clinically-validated targets to create a suite of antibodies going after these very large opportunities.”
Henderson said the Series B financing will help Apogee advance APG777 to the clinic in 2023. The company anticipates filing one Investigational New Drug application with the FDA annually for the next three years. It intends to share further details on its four pipeline programs in the coming year.
While multi-factorial diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are particularly intractable – these are not the diseases Apogee will be going after, Thompson said.
Paragon has approached targets that are less multi-factorial, coming at them in a different way, and “it looks like there’s a clear effect.”
“That was part of that critical mass of being able to put some of these assets together and create Apogee,” he said.
Henderson said the team had spent time consulting with patients and physicians to identify conditions with the highest unmet needs where it can design antibodies.
He called the current team “small but mighty” and said Apogee is focused on “building a team of doers.”
With its current financing, Henderson said Apogee has runway into 2025 and the ability to push each of its four pipeline programs forward aggressively.