SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Feb. 15, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Surrozen Inc., a newly formed biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing drugs that promote the repair and regeneration of human tissues, has closed a $33 million Series A financing led by The Column Group, a science-driven venture capital firm based in San Francisco. The funds will be used to implement a broad-based drug discovery platform aimed at unlocking the therapeutic potential of Wnt signaling, which plays a central role in organism development, stem-cell maintenance and tissue regeneration.
“Wnt proteins profoundly impact the formation of tissues and their repair after injury, representing an enormous opportunity for innovative drugs that can address organ degeneration and refractory healing conditions,” said Tim Kutzkey, Ph.D., acting CEO of Surrozen and managing partner of The Column Group. “Owing to their poor solubility, Wnt proteins themselves have never been successfully advanced as therapeutics. However, technology developed in the lab of Dr. Chris Garcia, co-founder of Surrozen, has overcome this previously insurmountable hurdle, enabling the generation of active Wnt ‘surrogates’ with attractive, drug-like properties.”
Surrozen’s founders include world leaders in the scientific research community and bring complementary expertise in Wnt biology, protein engineering, and stem cells. They are:
“Wnt pathway activation has been a biochemical puzzle for decades. Our technology opens the door to address fundamental biological and therapeutic questions in tissue repair for the first time,” Dr. Garcia said. “I am confident that our team’s deep expertise in many complementary areas will drive these important scientific advances into useful drugs.”
Surrozen’s board of directors includes: Tim Kutzkey, Ph.D., acting chief executive officer of Surrozen and managing partner of The Column Group; David Goeddel, Ph.D., managing partner of The Column Group; Harold Varmus, M.D., co-recipient of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and Lewis Thomas University Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine; and Wen-Chen Yeh, M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Surrozen. In addition to the company’s academic founders, Surrozen’s scientific advisory board includes Dr. Varmus; Hans Clevers, Ph.D., professor of Molecular Genetics at the Hubrecht Institute in Ubrecht, the Netherlands; and Bart Williams, Ph.D., professor for the Program in Skeletal Disease and Tumor Microenvironment at the Van Andel Research Institute.
“There is perhaps no field within human biology that has more exciting and untapped potential than Wnt signaling,” said Chief Scientific Officer Wen-Chen Yeh, M.D., Ph.D., formerly the scientific executive director at Amgen. “Surrozen’s foundational technology has the potential to generate a broad pipeline of Wnt pathway agonists that elicit tissue regeneration for a diverse array of conditions with great medical need. Our vision includes gaining a comprehensive understanding of tissue-specific mechanisms guiding the repair process, including the timing of the response and other signals that may be involved.”
Surrozen Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company focused on harnessing the Wnt pathway for applications in regenerative medicine. Founded on breakthrough science from Stanford University and backed by The Column Group, Surrozen is implementing a surrogate Wnt platform with the potential to unlock stem cell control in a wide array of human tissues. The company seeks to build a broad pipeline of selective Wnt pathway agonists that drive tissue regeneration in situ, with the goal of addressing a variety of critical unmet medical needs. For more information, please visit surrozen.com.