Bright Peak Therapeutics launched out of Versant Ventures’ Ridgeline Therapeutics Discovery Engine based in Basel, to focus on the development of a technology platform, licensed from ETH Zürich, which allows a wide range of proteins to be chemically assembled de novo. Unlike recombinant technologies, the platform enables specific modification and conjugation at any atom and at multiple sites in the structure of the target protein to optimize its function. Importantly, the technology also allows for the introduction of conjugation handles that can expand an optimized protein into a portfolio of conjugated or multi-targeted products.
The company has validated the platform by creating a portfolio of designer cytokines with the potential to be advanced as novel immune-oncology therapeutics. Amongst other constructs, these include an optimized IL-2 conjugated with targeting antibody moieties such as PD-1 or PD-L1
Precision engineering to create superior therapeutic proteins
Bright Peak’s chemistry know-how originated in the laboratory of co-founder Jeffery Bode, a professor of organic chemistry at ETH Zürich and leader in the chemical synthesis of proteins. He developed and optimized the technology over the past several years, and now has the exclusive licence from the university.
Bright Peak will operate across sites in Basel where the R&D team resides and in San Diego, California to allow for further refining the protein engineering platform and in parallel launch multiple programs from its current pipeline of candidates.
Series A investment round concluded
At inauguration as a spinoff of the ETH Zurich, of Bight Peak has obtained capital of $35 million series A investment from Versant Ventures. The investment will allow the company to expand its 20-member team to more than 30 scientists this year and expects to advance its lead program into clinical testing in 2021.
New leadership at Bright Peak
Sef Kurstjens join as Bright Peak president and CEO. Kurstjens brings more than 28 years of biotech and pharmaceutical drug development experience, having most recently served as a chief medical officer at Astellas Pharma Inc., where he was a member of the corporate executive committee. Kurstjens also served as president and CEO at Astellas’ Agensys Inc. affiliate. He will lead the team, which comprises internal R&D, and scientific founders and advisors such as Jeffery Bode, John Teijoro and Markus Enzelberger, partner at Versant.