MyoKardia got a stamp of validation with its first partnership last year. Now it’s become the latest in a string of biotechs to bring some “crossover” investors to the table.
The South San Francisco, CA-based startup, which is developing targeted drugs for certain forms of heart disease, has bagged a $46 million Series B round. The funds come from a group of backers best known for investing in public companies—Casdin Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, Perceptive Life Sciences, an “undisclosed public investment fund,” and BrigeBio LLC—and Sanofi, already a MyoKardia investor and development partner.
In what’s become a trend, MyoKardia’s founding investor Third Rock Ventures isn’t listed among the startup’s crossover-filled Series B round. Two other Third Rock startups, Voyager Therapeutics and Jounce Therapeutics, have put similar crossover-led Series B rounds together over the past month in financings without participation from the Boston firm. In both cases, company executives and a Third Rock spokesperson cited high interest from outsiders and an opportunity to diversify the startups’ shareholder bases. (And in Voyager’s case, the move was to support “a future potential IPO.”)
With the addition of crossover backers, an IPO looks to be where MyoKardia is headed, joining the ranks of a number of Third Rock-backed companies to go public over the past few years (most recently, Blueprint Medicines (NASDAQ: BPMC), which raised $147 million in an IPO last night).
MyoKardia was formed in 2012 based on an idea to develop small-molecule pills for groups of people with common genetic mutations that trigger certain heart diseases—including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which can cause sudden, fatal strokes in young adults, and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), the most common form of cardiomyopathy. (Combined, HCM and DCM affect about 800,000 people in the U.S.) MyoKardia’s drugs would be taken chronically to keep symptoms of these diseases at bay.
The plan intrigued Sanofi, which cut a $245 million deal with MyoKardia in September to co-develop two programs for HCM and one for DCM. Sanofi grabbed an equity stake in MyoKardia as part of the deal.
MyoKardia’s most advanced prospect, MYK-461, for HCM, is currently in Phase 1 clinical testing. The startup aims to show that MYK-461 can correct the irregular heartbeats that drive HCM, and ultimately halt the progression of the disease. It’s using genomic insights to streamline the development of MYK-461 and pick patients who might respond best to the drug.
“The enthusiasm from the investment community is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our scientists and employees, founders and collaborators all sharing MyoKardia’s vision to transform the lives of patients suffering from these devastating diseases,” said MyoKardia CEO Tassos Gianakakos, in a statement. “The investment of resources and expertise by our new shareholders helps MyoKardia continue to strengthen its scientific leadership position and advance our therapeutic programs as quickly and responsibly as possible.”