IFM Therapeutics has raised $55.5 million to launch its third drug subsidiary as well as an incubator, both of which are focused on developing new therapies for inflammatory diseases and cancers.
Those endeavors will be led by a familiar face. Boston-based IFM has promoted its vice president of research and development, Martin Seidel, to become its CEO and a member of the board of directors. Gary Glick, IFM’s co-founder and CEO since its formation two years ago, is taking on a new role as executive chairman of the board.
IFM Therapeutics operates a business structure that houses its programs in independently operating subsidiaries. Under the terms of the new financing, the incubator, called IFM Discovery, will develop compounds addressing a range of targets in the innate immune system. The company did not disclose details about which targets it is aiming for. But it says that when the first target-specific program advances to early preclinical development, it will go on to the new IFM subsidiary, called IFM Quattro.
The idea behind keeping programs in separate subsidiaries is to make it easier to strike up partnerships with large pharmaceutical companies. Deals can be made that focus on a single program, leaving the other programs to continue developing on their own. IFM says that after the first Discovery program moves on to Quattro, the incubator will continue to focus on additional targets that could become new IFM subsidiaries. It adds that the new cash announced Monday will fund up to two of them.
The IFM Therapeutics business model has already led to two deals with Novartis (NYSE: NVS) this year. In April, IFM Tre, a subsidiary developing anti-inflammatory drugs, was acquired by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant for $310 million up front. Milestone payments could add $1.26 billion to that deal. Novartis also entered a partnership in September with IFM Due, an IFM Therapeutics subsidiary developing drugs that target the cGAS/STING pathway to address inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. That deal gives Novartis an exclusive option to acquire Due for up to $840 million.
Omega Funds, a new investor, led the latest IFM Therapeutics financing. Earlier investors Atlas Venture and Abingworth also participated.
Photo by Wade Roush