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Jnana Therapeutics Launches With $50 Million Series A

Jnana is targeting the solute carrier (SLC) family of transporters, the cell’s metabolic gates (Image: Indiamart)

Jnana Therapeutics announced its launch today with the closing of a $50 million Series A financing. The company is building the first drug discovery platform dedicated to targeting the solute carrier (SLC) family of transporters, the cell’s metabolic gates. Jnana’s proprietary small molecule platform enables the company to address therapeutic targets rapidly and comprehensively across the SLC transporter family.

SLC transporters provide cells with knowledge about their environment. These proteins are amongst the oldest in biology, and afford avenues to address virtually all major diseases. After 50 years of drug development, only a handful of SLCs have been harnessed to treat disease, leaving over 400 members unstudied. Our proprietary chemistry and biology platform allows us to systematically advance medicines based on the biology of these ancient information gathering systems. We are targeting a broad range of medical conditions with significant unmet need, and we are fortunate to have the support of leaders in medicine and biotechnology.

– Amir Nashat, PhD, CEO of Jnana Therapeutics, Managing Partner with Polaris Partners

According to the company’s website, Jnana is “a Sanskrit word meaning knowledge that is recognized when experienced; knowledge that is inseparable from the total experience of reality.” The company is focused on immunometabolism, lysosomal function and mucosal defense, important disease pathways where SLC transporters provide novel targets for immuno-oncology, inflammatory disorders and neurological diseases.

Seed funders Polaris Partners and Avalon Ventures were joined in the Series A syndicate by Versant Ventures, AbbVie Ventures, and Pfizer R&D Innovate.

According to Brian Gormley of the Wall Street Journal, Polaris Partners has previously backed startup companies with a “similarly systematic approach to researching other protein drug targets” including Avila Therapeutics, acquired by Celgene (CELG) in 2012, and Trevena (TRVN), which went public in 2014.

Jnana’s founding team includes recognized leaders at the forefront of chemistry, drug discovery and development, translational medicine and company building.

  • Stuart Schreiber, PhD, Morris Loeb Professor at Harvard University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Cofounder of Broad Institute and biotech companies including Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX), ARIAD Pharmaceuticals – acquired by Takeda Pharmaceuticals (TKPYY) for over $5 billion earlier this year – and H3 Biomedicine.
  • Ramnik Xavier, MD, PhD, Chief of Gastroenterology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Professor at Harvard Medical School and Institute Member at Broad Institute.
  • Joanne Kotz, PhD, President at Jnana, previously Director at Broad Institute.
  • Joel Barrish, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at Jnana and former VP and Head of Discovery Chemistry at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY).

Dr. Nashat of Polaris Partners will be joined on Jnana’s board of directors by Kevin Kinsella, founder of Avalon Ventures, and Carlo Rizzuto, Ph.D. Partner at Versant.

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