- Octant recently announced it raised $80 million in funding. These are the details.
Octant – a next-generation and data-driven therapeutics company developing programmable biology and chemistry to build precision medicines for complex diseases – recently announced an $80 million Series B funding round led by Catalio Capital Management, established a Deep Mutational Scanning (DMS) biopharma partnership with Bristol Myers Squibb, and appointed biotech industry veteran Dean “Rick” Artis as its first Chief Scientific Officer and renowned scientist Feng Zhang to its Scientific Advisory Board.
Launched in 2017, Octant’s platform utilizes synthetic biology, high throughput multiplexed assays, synthetic chemistry, and computation to engineer and interrogate drugs, proteins, and cellular pathways at unprecedented scales in a quest for safer, more effective, and cheaper drugs.
Along with Catalio, the Series B funding included participation from Bristol Myers Squibb, and existing investors Andreessen Horowitz Bio Fund, Allen & Co., and 50 Years VC. So far, Octant has raised $115 million in funding. Catalio’s co-Founder and Managing Partner George Petrocheilos and Head of Research Dr. Diamantis Xylas are joining the Board as Director and Board Observer, respectively.
The proceeds from the Series B round will be used to further expand Octant’s platform capabilities and pipeline, advance its proprietary drug discovery technology and generate extensive datasets that map the relationships between drug candidates, genetics, and the biochemical mechanisms of human cells. And Octant also plans to develop multiple additional therapeutic programs in small molecule chaperone therapies for rare genetic diseases.
Bristol Myers Squibb Collaboration
Octant also recently announced a collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb. Under the collaboration agreement, Octant will apply its DMS technologies to a set of inflammation-related pathways.
Senior Leadership Appointments
As Chief Scientific Officer, Rick Artis is going to be responsible for Octant’s chemistry function and drug discovery and development programs. Prior to joining Octant in December 2021, he served as a Senior Vice President, Chemistry for Annexon Biosciences, where he led the efforts to develop small molecule inhibitors. Artis also served as the President and CSO of Chorum Pharmaceuticals for over 7 years where he helped develop new opportunities through research collaborations with prominent academic groups in diverse therapeutic areas. Before that, he led Molecular Discovery at Elan where he was responsible for medicinal chemistry, early process chemistry and formulation, assay development and screening, informatics, and structural biology. Plus Artis also held several key roles at leading pharmaceutical companies including Plexxikon, Genentech, and Syntex.
Feng Zhang – who recently joined Octant’s Scientific Advisory Board – is a renowned expert in the fields of synthetic biology and functional genomics. And Zhang pioneered the development of genome editing tools for use in eukaryotic cells – including human cells – from natural microbial CRISPR-Cas9 systems, and studied the genetics and epigenetics of human diseases, especially complex disorders, such as psychiatric and neurological diseases that are caused by multiple genetic and environmental risk factors and are difficult to model using conventional methods. He is a core institute member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, as well as an investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the James and Patricia Poitras Professor of Neuroscience at MIT, and a professor at MIT, with joint appointments in the departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering. Zhang is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
“Achieving these significant milestones reflects Octant’s strong momentum, and we are grateful for the ongoing support from our world-class investors and collaborators who believe in our team and our work. This investment will help propel Octant forward in all facets of our business and accelerate our ability to develop life-changing drugs and therapies for some of the world’s most challenging diseases. We are also grateful that our existing investors have committed so much additional capital in this latest round, which is a true vote of confidence in our mission and technology.”
“Immunogenetics and immunopharmacology are among the most complex areas in biology and drug discovery, with potential to impact countless patients. We’re thrilled to work with Bristol Myers Squibb, a leader in immunology and genetics-driven drug development, to apply Octant’s platform and leading, proprietary mutagenic scanning technologies to Bristol Myers Squibb’s foundational work for the benefit of patients around the world.”
“These appointments underscore Octant’s commitment to attracting world-class talent and innovation. Rick and Feng are each highly respected visionaries who embody our passion for bringing life-saving innovations to patients with complex diseases. We look forward to their contributions as we continue to execute on our mission.”
— Sri Kosuri, Sc.D., Chief Executive Officer and co-Founder of Octant
“Octant is on an exciting growth trajectory, led by a passionate management team with a unique understanding of how to translate world-class research into an entirely new approach to addressing complicated diseases,” said Mr. Petrocheilos. “Catalio is proud to help accelerate Octant’s growth and support its mission to discover and develop innovative and impactful therapeutics for patients around the world.”
— Catalio’s co-Founder and Managing Partner George Petrocheilos
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