13.10.2020 / Helsinki, Finland
Rappta Therapeutics (“Rappta”), focused on developing first-in-class anti-cancer drugs activating protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), announces today the closing of a EUR 9 million Series A financing co-led by Novartis Venture Fund (“NVF”) and Novo Holdings with participation from Advent Life Sciences and a family office. The company also announces it has successfully received funding from Business Finland, the Finnish innovation funding organization.
PP2A is a critical enzyme regulating protein de-phosphorylation and a key tumor suppressor which to date has been very difficult to target pharmaceutically. Rappta has developed proprietary tools and a unique understanding of PP2A which allows it to therapeutically reactivate PP2A. As a result of PP2A’s central role in the regulation of protein de-phosphorylation, Rappta’s PP2A-reactivating technologies offer the potential to develop multiple lead compounds and build a platform for a new class of anti-cancer drugs.
Rappta has assembled a strong scientific, management, and commercial team based in Finland and the US. Rappta’s scientific team, led by CSO and co-founder, Professor Goutham Narla, Division Chief of Genetic Medicine at the University of Michigan, represents world-leading expertise in PP2A. The scientific team has published seminal papers on the structural, functional, and biological mechanisms of PP2A inactivation in human cancer. The team will be supported by the Scientific Advisory Board led by Dr. William Hahn, a Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and the Chief Research Strategy Officer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Goutham Narla, Rappta’s CSO, board member and co-founder, commented: “I am thrilled to be working on this opportunity to build a new platform and a novel class of pharmaceuticals to treat cancer. We have a unique team whose deep understanding of the PP2A biochemistry, structural biology, biogenesis, medicinal chemistry and drug development represent the perfect combination of expertise to translate these discoveries to the clinic.”
Mikko Mannerkoski, Rappta’s CEO, board member and co-founder, commented: “We are very pleased to attract such a strong syndicate of international investors which validates our approach to developing novel therapies to target the previously undruggable target protein PP2A. This funding will enable us to accelerate the development of our platform and advance the lead compounds towards clinical development.”
Beat Steffen from NVF, Jeroen Bakker from Novo Seeds, and Raj Parekh from Advent Life Sciences, will join Mikko Mannerkoski and Goutham Narla on the Board of Directors with Beat Steffen serving as the chairperson.
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Rappta Therapeutics, a private biotech with operations in Finland and the US, is developing first-in-class anti-cancer drugs activating protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A). It has developed proprietary tools and a unique understanding of PP2A which allows it to therapeutically reactivate PP2A, a critical enzyme regulating protein de-phosphorylation and tumor growth, with the potential to create a new class of anti-cancer drugs. Rappta has a strong scientific, management and commercial team. Its scientific team, led by CSO and co-founder, Professor Goutham Narla, Division Chief of Genetic Medicine at the University of Michigan, represents world-leading expertise in PP2A. It is backed by blue-chip investors Advent Life Sciences, Novartis Venture Fund, Novo Seeds and a family office. For more information, go to www.rappta-therapeutics.com.
Reversible phosphorylation is a fundamental mechanism controlling all cell signaling and communication and this process is regulated through the opposing actions of phosphatases (which remove phosphate groups from proteins) and kinases (which add phosphate groups to proteins). Altered cellular signaling as a result of protein hyperphosphorylation, results in the sustained growth of malignant cells and is a hallmark of human cancer development and progression.
Protein Phosphatase 2A (PP2A) is a serine/threonine phosphatase that functions as a tumor suppressor by negatively regulating multiple oncogenic signaling pathways responsible for driving cancer progression. PP2A is made up of three subunits, that form a complete and active enzyme when bound together. The active enzyme is comprised of a scaffolding subunit (A), serving as the structural platform for the assembly of the catalytic (C) subunit and one substrate directing regulatory (B) subunit. In cancer, the tumor-suppressive activity of PP2A is often disrupted as a result of the inability of the three subunits to bind together correctly, rendering the PP2A enzyme inactive. This inactivation of PP2A, leads to increased oncogenic signaling, driving cancer progression and growth. Therefore, the reactivation of PP2A affords a unique therapeutic strategy to restore PP2A activity and cellular homeostasis, that can be used for the treatment of cancer and a broad range of other diseases.
Novartis Venture Fund is a financially driven corporate life science venture fund whose purpose is to foster innovation, drive significant patient benefit and generate superior returns by creating and investing in innovative life science companies at various stages of their development. For more information, go to www.nvfund.com.
Novo Holdings A/S is a private limited liability company wholly owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. It is the holding and investment company of the Novo Group, comprising Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S, and is responsible for managing the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s assets. Novo Holdings is recognized as a leading international life science investor, with a focus on creating long-term value. As a life science investor, Novo Holdings provides seed and venture capital to development-stage companies and takes significant ownership positions in growth and well-established companies. Novo Holdings also manages a broad portfolio of diversified financial assets. Further information: http://www.novoholdings.dk
Advent Life Sciences founds and invests in early- and mid-stage life sciences companies that have a first- or best-in-class approach to unmet medical needs. The investing team consists of experienced professionals, each with extensive scientific, medical and operational experience, a long-standing record of entrepreneurial and investment success in the US and Europe and is particularly focused on supporting entrepreneurs and founders to take innovative new medical entities from concept to approval. The firm invests in a range of sectors within life sciences, principally drug discovery, enabling technologies and med tech, always with an emphasis on innovative, paradigm-changing approaches. Advent Life Sciences has a presence in the UK, US and France. For more information, please visit www.AdventLS.com