Sitryx, a new biopharmaceutical company focused on regulating cell metabolism to develop disease-modifying therapeutics in immuno-oncology and immuno-inflammation, has closed its Series A financing round having raised $30 million. Chair of biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin Luke O’Neill is one of the co-founders.

Syndicate of specialist international healthcare investors

The company, founded with seed funding from SV Health investors, raised the funding from a syndicate of specialist international healthcare investors co-led by SV Health Investors and Sofinnova Partners and that also included Longwood Fund and the global healthcare company GSK. Immunometabolism is a fast-emerging area of investigation into the role of metabolic pathways in immune cell function. Changes to these pathways are pivotal in the development of a number of severe diseases, including a range of cancer and autoimmune conditions. Correcting immune cell function and/or inhibiting tumour cell growth through immunometabolic therapies has the potential to offer key, complementary and highly differentiated approaches to treating disease. Sitryx is leveraging the world-leading scientific expertise of its founders in the field of immunometabolism to address a broad range of immunometabolic targets.

Differentiated chemistry approaches

Through differentiated chemistry approaches, including small molecules, proteolysis targeting chimera (PROTACS) and topical formulations, Sitryx has built a portfolio of projects addressing oncology and immuno-inflammatory indications. Sitryx’s proprietary science is supported through close working with GSK’s drug discovery and chemistry experts. This includes access to certain GSK technologies and the licensing of intellectual property, including chemical matter, from GSK. GSK’s interest in Sitryx arose from work within the immunology network, a unique open collaboration initiative connecting GSK to the work of academic scientists and their novel immunology research. Sitryx was co-founded by a team of world-leading scientists who have contributed significantly to the field. The co-founders include chair of biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin, Luke O’Neill, who said: “I’m delighted that my sabbatical in GSK has resulted in the formation of this new company in what is a tremendously exciting area.” The other co-founders comprise Houman Ashrafian, partner at SV Health Investors; Jonathan Powell, professor of oncology and associate director, Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Johns Hopkins University; Jeff Rathmell, professor of cancer biology and director, Vanderbilt Center for Immunobiology; Michael Rosenblum, assistant professor, UCSF School of Medicine; and Paul Peter Tak, former chief immunology officer and senior vice-president at GSK and professor of medicine at Amsterdam University Medical Centre.

Team of highly experienced drug discovery and development leaders

Sitryx has recruited a team of highly experienced drug discovery and development leaders including CEO Neil Weir, formerly SVP Discovery at UCB Pharma. Neil Weir, Sitryx CEO, said: “Immunometabolism is an extremely exciting and compelling scientific area and, at Sitryx, we have seen that modulation of these key cellular pathways has broad therapeutic potential across multiple disorders with unmet medical need, particularly in the areas of immuno-oncology and immuno-inflammation. "We are delighted to welcome leading specialist investors to the company, which further validates the strength of our scientific expertise and ambitions. Together with our proprietary chemistry, deep biological insights and world leading team of immunometabolism experts, Sitryx is well positioned to become a leader in immunometabolism.” Richard Aldrich, General Partner of Longwood Fund, said: “We’re excited about our investment in Sitryx and their world class team. The Sitryx immunometabolism platform has the potential to yield major breakthroughs in inflammation and oncology.” Houman Ashrafian, SV Health Investors, said: “This significant fundraise is clear validation of Sitryx’s expertise and ambitions in the fast-emerging area of immunometabolism. We’re very pleased to be able to support Sitryx at this exciting time and will follow the team’s scientific progress with interest.”

Exciting opportunity in promising area of immunometabolism

Maina Bhaman, Sofinnova Partners, said: “Sitryx represents an exciting opportunity in the promising area of immunometabolism and we are extremely pleased to invest in Sitryx and look forward to supporting the management team as it establishes Sitryx as a leader in the development of disease-modifying therapeutics in immuno-oncology and immuno-inflammation.” John Lepore, senior vice -president, research, GSK, said: “Immunology is at the heart of GSK’s new approach to R&D. Through our Immunology Network, we believe the emerging field of immunometabolism that Sitryx is focusing on has the potential to bring new therapeutic opportunities to patients for a broad range of diseases including cancer. "Our investment in Sitryx will allow us to access this exciting science through working closely with world-renowned academic scientists in an open collaborative way.”