Dianthus Therapeutics is on a mission to reduce the number of injections autoimmune disease patients have to receive, using $100 million in series A financing to send its antibody candidate into the clinic this year.
The company’s lead program, DNTH103, is a next-generation monoclonal antibody designed to selectively target the active form of the C1s complement protein, enabling a lower dosing volume and less frequent administration. If successful, it would mark an improvement for the lives of patients with autoimmune diseases who are burdened by regular injections or IV infusions.
The therapy is in the preclinical stage, with dosing of first healthy volunteers set for the fourth quarter of this year, Dianthus CEO and President Marino Garcia told Fierce Biotech.
Current antibody therapies bind to both inactive and active complement proteins, but Dianthus is staking its claim on the fact that DNTH103 selectively targets only the active form of C1s. Combined with an extended half-life, patients may require less regular dosing to receive the same therapy benefits.
The drug “absolutely nails” the simple goal of delivering these therapies in a better way for patients, the CEO said.
“We want [a] very low volume, infrequently dosed, self-injector so patients don’t have to go to a clinic for hours,” Garcia said, adding that the goal is to fit treatment into patients’ lifestyle. “We’re not developing to find an unmet market but focused on what patients need and developing that treatment for them—that’s our north star. We’re staying focused on these patients and developing something better for them.”
The financing was led by 5AM Ventures, Avidity Partners and Fidelity Management & Research Company, with other investors including Wedbush Healthcare Partners and founding investors Fairmount, Tellus BioVentures and Venrock Healthcare Capital Partners.
As well as propel DNTH103 toward the clinic, the biotech will also use the money to expand its leadership and scientific teams, which currently sits at around 15 members in total. Dianthus expects to double that figure in the coming months, aiming for 30 to 40 employees by the end of 2022.
They will be led by Garcia, who joined the business six months ago, after a 25-year career in the industry that included his most recent role as senior vice president of corporate and business development at peptide-focused Zealand Pharma. He is joined by chief medical officer Simrat Randhawa, M.D., whose over 20 years of clinical practice and pharmaceutical industry experience led to his most recent position as senior vice president of clinical and medical affairs at autoimmune disease focused Aurinia Pharmaceuticals.
Backed by a board that includes Tellus BioVentures founder Lonnie Moulder and former Akcea Therapeutics CEO Paula Soteropoulos, Dianthus also plans to push its two early discovery programs—both aimed at different unmet needs within the autoimmune space—towards clinical trials in the near future.