San Diego-based today announced the launch of the company with the closing of a $28 million Series A financing. The financing was led by DCVC Bio and The Column Group, with participation from M Ventures, CRV, and Neotribe Ventures. The company’s proprietary platform, DELPhe, enables cell-based phenotypic screening of DNA-encoded libraries in nanoliter volumes.
Proceeds from the financing will be used to further advance Plexium’s DELPhe platform and build a pipeline of small molecules that modulate E3 ligases to selectively enhance and degrade protein targets. Disease-specific profiles of desired protein modulation are informed by human clinical and translational biomarker observations. By screening millions of small molecules, simultaneously, for their impact on cellular RNA and protein levels, compounds with the desired activity profiles will be selected and advanced as therapeutic candidates in oncology and neurodegenerative diseases.
“Inducing protein degradation by redirecting E3 ligases is an exciting therapeutic modality with immense potential to create safe and effective new medicines,” said Kandaswamy (Swamy) Vijayan, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Plexium. “The levels of a vast majority of proteins in the cell are modulated by E3 ligases, including disease targets considered ‘undruggable.’ DELPhe can efficiently identify therapeutic small molecules for the precise manipulation of E3 ligases, unlocking control of disease-modifying pathways.”
Plexium’s strategy employing the DELPhe platform is unlike other approaches to targeted protein degradation. While other strategies require a small molecule known to bind a protein target to be degraded, the DELPhe platform utilizes target-specific degradation assays and phenotypic screens to find small molecules that reduce levels of the target protein in cells. This creates an opportunity to identify small molecules to undruggable protein targets through screening approaches that do not require prior knowledge of molecules that bind the target.
In conjunction with the financing, Kiersten Stead, Ph.D., managing partner of DCVC Bio, and Tim Kutzkey, Ph.D., managing partner of The Column Group, have joined Plexium’s board of directors.
“Plexium is replacing the complex infrastructure around drug discovery with an ultra-high-throughput microfluidic platform while reducing assay complexity and supercharging chemical diversity,” said Kiersten Stead. “The richness and scale of data that can be generated from the DELPhe platform are poised to transform drug development. We are thrilled to support Plexium in its mission to develop the ultimate tool for drugging undruggable proteins.”
“Plexium is an interesting amalgam of cutting-edge engineering coupled with the latest advances in chemistry and biology,” said Tim Kutzkey. “We are impressed with the vision of the DELPhe platform and its applicability to E3 ligase modulation. We believe tuning E3 ligases opens up immense opportunities for first-in-class therapeutics, and we are excited to be supporting the novel approaches and therapeutic opportunities being pursued at Plexium.”
Plexium will be presenting at the Targeted Protein Degradation Summit in Boston on October 23.
Plexium is an emerging biotechnology company focused on the identification of E3 ligase modulating small molecules to treat cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. The company’s screening platform, named DELPhe for DNA-Encoded Library (DEL) phenotypic (Phe) screening, utilizes droplet and microwell confinement to miniaturize cell-based assays that yield high content readouts at very low cost and very high throughput. Plexium is gathering a comprehensive catalog of chemical and biological interactions of E3 ligases and aims to lead this field by discovering and developing new therapeutics internally and with partners. Plexium is headquartered in San Diego, the 3rd largest biotech arena in the US. For more info, visit www.plexium.com.