Versanis Bio today announced the closing of its Series A financing of $70 million to advance the clinical development of bimagrumab, an activin receptor type II antagonist. The company was founded and seeded earlier this year by biotech investment firm Aditum Bio to develop a new therapy for the treatment of metabolic disease and obesity following the in-licensing of bimagrumab from Novartis. Atlas Venture and Medicxi co-led the Series A financing with participation from Aditum Bio, positioning Versanis to initiate an advanced phase 2 program for the treatment of obesity.
"Obesity is a growing healthcare challenge worldwide. In the US, more than 40% of the adult population is obese and obesity is linked to some of the most common causes of death including cardiovascular disease and cancer," said Dr. Lloyd Klickstein, CEO of Versanis Bio. Dr. Mark Fishman, Co-Founder of Aditum Bio and member of the Versanis Bio Board of Directors added, "As people age, loss of muscle mass makes it even harder to lose weight. All existing obesity treatments risk further loss of muscle, together with fat. Bimagrumab is a unique therapy that builds muscle while markedly reducing fat, providing a potential breakthrough in the obesity epidemic." Dr. Fishman is joined on the Board of Directors by Michael Gladstone, Partner at Atlas Venture, Nicholas Williams, Principal at Medicxi, and Joe Jimenez, Co-Founder of Aditum Bio.
The Series A funding will be used to support a comprehensive phase 2 clinical program to evaluate the potential of bimagrumab to help obese patients lose fat and achieve an improved body composition.
Bimagrumab is a highly potent, first-in-class, fully human monoclonal antibody to the activin type II receptors that blocks the binding of ligands including activin A and myostatin. Bimagrumab has been studied by Novartis in more than a dozen controlled clinical trials that enrolled more than 1,500 people. Across key studies bimagrumab treatment consistently and potently induced significant loss of fat mass without loss of lean mass, and additionally improved HbA1c and other cardiometabolic parameters. In a recent study of overweight or obese patients with diabetes, 48 weeks of treatment with bimagrumab led to a 20.5% loss of total body fat mass and a 3.6% increase in lean mass (JAMA Network Open. 2021;4(1):e2033457). For more information about obesity, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
About Versanis Bio
Versanis Bio was established to develop first-in-class medicines that address medical conditions prevalent in older adults. Bimagrumab is the lead Versanis Bio program, with a goal of helping overweight and obese adults achieve and maintain a healthy body composition. For more information, please visit https://www.versanisbio.com/.
About Aditum Bio
Aditum Bio is committed to improving public health by accelerating R&D in disease areas with both large and more targeted patient populations, where medical innovation can have a huge impact. Aditum Bio focuses on basic mechanisms of disease, in-licenses promising drug candidates directed at such pathophysiologies, and spins-out individual companies dedicated to bringing each candidate through Phase II clinical trials. In partnership with TrialSpark, Aditum Bio uses data, software and technology to help bring innovative medicines through the clinical trial phase more quickly and with lower costs than traditional pharmaceutical companies. For more information, please visit www.aditumbio.com.
About Atlas Venture
Atlas Venture is a leading biotech venture capital firm. With the goal of doing well by doing good, we have been building breakthrough biotech startups for over 25 years. We work side by side with exceptional scientists and entrepreneurs to translate high impact science into medicines for patients. Our seed-led venture creation strategy rigorously selects and focuses investment on the most compelling opportunities to build scalable businesses and realize value. For more information, please visit www.atlasventure.com.
Medicxi is a healthcare-focused investment firm with the mission to create and invest in companies across the full drug development continuum. Leveraging deep expertise in drug development and company creation spanning over two decades, Medicxi invests in early and late-stage therapeutics with a product vision that can fulfill a clear unmet medical need. For more information, please visit https://www.medicxi.com.