Gilead-partnered Goldfinch Bio lands $100M as it pivots to clinical stage biotech

A year after landing $109 million in cash for an early-stage discovery deal with Gilead, Goldfinch Bio has scored a similar bounty from investors, raising $100 million in the biotech’s first financing round since its 2016 launch.

The new round, led by Eventide Asset Management and joined by 8 other firms, confirms that last year’s Gilead deal began a new, busier, more vocal era for the company. After launching out of Third Rock with $55 million and a plan to tackle kidney disease, they focused on preclinical research and made few material announcements. But the latest press release is full of plans, including their first Phase II study and a new therapy scheduled to enter the clinic next year.

Led by former AstraZeneca executive Anthony Johnson, Goldfinch has spent the last two years using a pair of tools to investigate the underlying mechanism behind kidney diseases. On one hand, they built the Kidney Genome Atlas, registering thousands of patients and scanning their DNA, their RNA, and their proteins for patterns and clues. On the other, they used stem cells to create organoids — kidneys in a dish — that they could then use to test the targets they gleaned from the Atlas.

Those were the twin pillars beneath the platform Gilead wanted to sign onto, promising up-to $2 billion for 5 potential programs, not including the ones Goldfinch already developed. For Goldfinch, it’s landed them a pair of experimental drugs: GFB-887 and GFB-024.

Already being tested in healthy subjects, GBB-887 will soon enter Phase II for a kidney-scarring disease called FSGS and diabetic nephropathy, when complications from diabetes lead to lost kidney function. The idea is that the ion channel TRPC5 being overactivated is part of what causes disease in these patients and that inhibiting it can thus halt the disease.

GFB-024 targets the cannabinoid receptor and will go into a proof-of-concept trial next year for a form of diabetic nephropathy that is mediated by that receptor, Goldfinch said.

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