Precision Immunology Biotech Rebrands and Scores $200 Million

Alumis, formerly Esker Therapeutics, a San Francisco-based biotech company, closed on a $200 million Series B financing round. The company is backed by Foresite Capital and incubated by Foresite Labs. AyurMaya, an affiliate of Matrix Capital Management, and a U.S.-based healthcare-focused fund led the round.

Alumis calls itself a precision immunology company. It expects to use the funds to advance its pipeline with its lead compound, ESK-001. The highly selective and potentially best-in-class TYK2 inhibitor is under development for psoriasis.

TYK2 is a gene coding for a member of the tyrosine kinase and Janus kinases (JAKs) families. TYK2 is central to the signaling cytokine pathways that are key mediators of inflammation and autoimmune diseases. ESK-001 has been shown to inhibit TYK2 in a very selective fashion, which allows for higher dosing levels while avoiding the undesirable side effects seen with JAKs.

“We are thrilled to announce the completion of this financing with support from leading investors in our industry,” said Martin Babler, president and chief executive officer of Alumis. “These funds position us well to independently advance several precision immunology programs and potentially add additional assets to our pipeline. Since the company’s launch last year, we have been making progress advancing our lead program into the clinic, initiating several pipeline programs and leveraging insights from our analytics platform to inform both our clinical development plans and our discovery programs. Our team has expanded significantly in research, development and business development, and we are pleased to further strengthen our board of directors with industry veterans such as Alan Colowick.”

Dr. Alan Colowick is the managing director of Matrix.

The company launched in May 2021 with a $70 million Series A financing from Foresite Capital. The goal was to improve upon current treatments for autoimmune diseases.

Autoimmune diseases are the third most common cause of chronic disease, affecting 25 million people in the U.S. alone. Although there are a few treatments available, response rates are generally low.

Alumis leverages a precision analytics platform powered by Foresite Labs, which is made up of high-quality curated genetic, clinical and health records data, as well as a systems immunology toolkit for prospective data collection.

“Alumis’ unique approach of combining a novel precision analytics platform with deep experience in immunology pathophysiology and a proven track record of developing and commercializing novel drugs holds significant promise for the future treatment of patients with autoimmune disease,” said Dr. Colowick “Alumis is a perfect fit for our mission to support world-class teams focusing on addressing the most important unmet medical needs by leveraging the convergence of technology and biology. I am particularly excited to join the board of directors and to have the opportunity to work with Martin and his team again.”

The new name is a combination of “alumer” for “lightened/enlightened” and “immunis” for “immunology.”

Foresite Labs uses data science to develop and support life science companies as an incubator. As of late December 2021, Foresite Labs had incubated five companies, including Alumis, Interline Therapeutics, Sestina Bio, and two others in stealth mode, one a precision platform therapeutics company and the other focused on cardiometabolic therapeutics.

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