Biotechnology company Diagonal Therapeutics has announced its launch, raising $128m through a Series A financing round for its new approach to discovering and developing agonist antibodies.

BVF Partners and Atlas Venture jointly led the financing round with participation from Checkpoint Capital, Frazier Life Sciences, Lightspeed Venture Partners, RA Capital Management, Velosity Capital and Viking Global Investors.

The company plans a new approach to develop antibodies to address the underlying causes of severely debilitating disease.

The funds will be utilised to advance its Diagonal platform and the development of a pipeline of new therapeutics.

The platform merges computational and experimental approaches to detect rare agonist antibodies that can re-activate deficient signalling pathways.

Diagonal will also use the funds to progress its lead programme for hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) through clinical proof-of-concept.

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The asset activates a receptor complex in the TGF-β superfamily that is genetically impaired in HHT.

In preclinical models, agonist antibodies of Diagonal demonstrated the ability to hinder and reverse the formation of pathological vascular malformations associated with HHT.

The company also discovered antibody candidates against four complex targets, which could pave the way for new treatments for severe diseases such as pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Diagonal Therapeutics co-founder Alex Lugovskoy stated: “We are fundamentally changing how agonist antibody therapies are developed.

“The Diagonal platform allows us to overcome technical limitations that hindered agonist antibody discovery in the past, and we have demonstrated that we can efficiently advance novel drug candidates for diseases where patients have limited or no treatment options.

“Our approach enables us to treat a wide range of disorders where signalling pathways have been disrupted with agonist antibodies that have superior potency and selectivity, tunable and sustained pharmacology, excellent developability and low immunogenicity.”