US-based biotechnology company Pliant Therapeutics has secured new funding in a series B financing round to support and advance its therapeutic programmes for fibrotic diseases.
The $62m funding round was led by Cowen Healthcare Investments. Other investors include Eventide Asset Management, Menlo Ventures, Schroder Adveq, Agent Capital, SCubed Capital and a few undisclosed investors.
Pliant will use the funds to launch proof-of-concept clinical trials for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).
Furthermore, the company plans to support existing drug discovery programmes designed for other fibrotic diseases.
Pliant Therapeutics president and CEO Bernard Coulie said: “Our Series B financing will support the early development of our lead product candidate in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis, as well as our aggressive strategy to build our pipeline of proprietary product candidates and attract partnering opportunities.”
The company will focus on the research and development of new drug candidates based on its discovery that integrins are key drivers of fibrosis. Pliant said that the therapeutics may potentially target multiple fibrotic diseases.
Pliant’s therapeutic technique involves blocking of integrins and the TGF-β pathway through a fibrotic tissue-specific approach.
The company’s lead candidate is a small molecule dual selective αVβ1 and αVβ6 integrins inhibitor set to be assessed for IPF, a rare and lethal disease affecting around 140,000 people in the US per year.
The drug candidate will also be investigated for the treatment of PSC, a rare and progressive disease that affects the bile ducts and can lead to tumours and liver failure in nearly 30,000 people in the country.
In preclinical studies, the candidate was observed to regulate fibrotic tissue-specific integrins that selectively inhibit TGF-β activation, thereby prevent and potentially reverse growth of fibrotic tissue in the lung and liver.
Connected with the financing, Kevin Raidy, managing partner of Cowen, has joined Pilant’s board of directors.
Raidy said: “The unique biological insights Pliant Therapeutics has uncovered about the role of integrins as key drivers of fibrosis will fuel the discovery of novel therapeutics that have the potential to address a range of fibrotic diseases.”