LDC-associated company Quench Bio Closes USD 50M Series A Financing to Advance First-in-Class Medicines against Severe Inflammatory Diseases

Neutrophil granulocytes
Scientists at the MPI for Infection Biology have discovered a previously unknown mechanism: neutrophil granulocytes, cells that form part of the human immune system, can cast a sort of net to capture bacteria and kill them outside the cell. The red invaders – in this case Shigella bacteria – become entangled in the yellow nets. © Volker Brinkmann/MPI for Infection Biology

The Lead Discovery Center GmbH (LDC), the Max Planck Society (MPG) and Max Planck Innovation (MI) announce that their associated company Quench Bio Inc., Cambridge, USA has raised USD 50 million in a Series A financing round. The financing was led by RA Capital Management (RA Capital) and included Abbvie Ventures as well as co-founders and seed investors Atlas Venture (Atlas) and Arix Bioscience plc (Arix).

Quench Bio develops therapies targeting innate immune pathways to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The approach centres on a pore-forming protein called Gasdermin D that was identified as a potential new target during a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, Germany, the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology in Dortmund, Germany and the LDC.

In close collaboration, the partners generated a series of Gasdermin inhibitors that prevent the release of inflammatory cytokines, alarmins and neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), thereby validating the protein as a key target at the core of multiple inflammatory cell death pathways, including pyroptosis and NETosis. The specific targeting of Gasdermin represents a novel mode of action for the treatment of numerous inflammatory diseases associated with NETosis, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). When Quench Bio was founded in 2018, it received an exclusive license to IP relating to the therapeutic use of Gasdermin by LDC and MI. The co-founders, besides LDC and MI, include Atlas, Arix and MPG Directors Arturo Zychlinsky and Herbert Waldmann, among others.

The company has brought together an experienced team of drug developers and scientists, led by Chief Executive Officer Samantha Truex, the former Chief Business Officer of Padlock Therapeutics, which was acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb in 2016.

With such a strong team of entrepreneurs, scientists and investors, the company is in an excellent position to deliver on the promise of an exciting new therapeutic platform concept. The emergence of Quench exemplifies the power of our collaborative approach to drug discovery. Together, we have been able to translate the discovery of Gasdermin and its role in inflammatory cell death into a validated therapeutic strategy with game-changing potential in many inflammation-related indications.

Bert Klebl
CEO Lead Discovery Center GmbH

The LDC has already demonstrated a track record of successful outlicensing deals to pharma companies. The foundation of Quench Bio represents a major step in the spin-off sector. This VC-backed form of commercialization of MPG/LDC projects allows exquisitely well-focused, comprehensive and fast development.

Dieter Link
Patent and licensing manager at Max Planck Innovation

I’m delighted by the strong support from MPG, MI, LDC and our investors, which enables us to advance our scientific findings towards medical practice. Targeting inflammatory cell death pathways is a unique approach and may provide new opportunities for patients who currently have very limited treatment options.

Prof. Arturo Zychlinsky
Director of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology

Gasdermins are among, if not the most innovative and truly novel targets for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. They offer multiple opportunities for a whole flight of drug discovery programs. The Quench team is highly experienced in drug discovery and commands in-depth knowledge in the relevant disease areas, so that the company is ideally positioned for success.

Prof. Herbert Waldmann
Director at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology
Member of the Board of Directors of Quench Bio

About Quench Bio

Quench Bio is a biotechnology company leveraging new insights into Gasdermin biology and innate immunity to develop medicines for severe inflammatory diseases. Quench’s lead compounds target and inhibit the pore-forming protein Gasdermin D, a central player in both pyroptosis and NETosis pathways that mediates the release of inflammatory cytokines, alarmins, DNA and NETs. Quench Bio launched in January 2020 with USD 50 million from leading life science investors including Atlas Venture, Arix Bioscience, RA Capital and AbbVie Ventures. To learn more, please visit www.quenchbio.com.

About LDC

The Lead Discovery Center was established in 2008 by the technology transfer organization Max Planck Innovation, as a novel approach to capitalize on the potential of excellent basic research for the discovery of new therapies for diseases with high medical need. The Lead Discovery Center takes on promising early-stage projects from academia and transforms them into innovative pharmaceutical leads and antibodies that reach initial proof-of-concept in animals. In close collaboration with high-profile partners from academia and industry, the Lead Discovery Center is building a strong and growing portfolio of small molecule leads with exceptional medical and commercial potential.
The Lead Discovery Center sustains a long-term partnership with the Max Planck Society and has formed alliances with AstraZeneca, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck KGaA, Daiichi Sankyo, Qurient, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Roche and Sotio as well as various investors leading translational drug discovery centers around the globe.
Further information at: www.lead-discovery.de

About Max Planck Innovation

Max Planck Innovation (MI) is responsible for the technology transfer of the Max Planck Society and, as such, the link between industry and basic research. With an interdisciplinary, team MI advises and supports scientists at Max Planck Institutes in evaluating their inventions, filing patents and founding companies. MI offers industry unique access to the innovations of the Max Planck Institutes. Thus, MI performs an important task: the transfer of basic research results into products that contribute to economic and social progress.

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