Comanche Biopharma raises $75M to fund preeclampsia drug testing

Comanche Biopharma raises $75M to fund preeclampsia drug testing

  18 Jan 2024

Dive Brief:

  • Massachusetts-based startup Comanche BioPharma has raised $75 million in new venture funding to advance an experimental treatment targeting a cause of the pregnancy-related condition preeclampsia.
  • Preeclampsia involves sudden blood pressure spikes that can lead to serious complications for both the mother and fetus. Comanche’s RNA-based drug is designed to mute overproduction of a protein Comanche’s founding researchers have linked to preeclampsia.
  • With the new funds, Comanche plans to advance the drug, dubbed CBP-4888, through a “comprehensive series of trials,” including a study of pregnant preeclamptic patients later this year. The company previously completed a Phase 1 study in healthy women of child-bearing age.

Dive Insight:

Preeclampsia tends to affect expecting mothers in the second half of pregnancy and is more likely to occur alongside underlying conditions such as chronic high blood pressure or obesity, among others. It can lead to severe complications such as stroke, preterm birth or stillbirth.

However, its direct cause has been hard to pin down. Comanche is founded around research that points to one potential trigger.

Along with high blood pressure, one sign of preeclampsia is increased protein in urine. Comanche’s founders identified a protein, called sFlt1, that’s elevated in the blood of women with preeclampsia. High levels of sFlt1 in the placenta is toxic to the mother and leads to blood vessel damage.

Last year, the FDA approved a blood test that can detect this protein for diagnosing preeclampsia before symptoms get severe. Comanche said this diagnostic will be vital to the design of its clinical trials testing CBP-4888.

The drug is what’s known as a small interfering RNA, a type of drugmaking technology pioneered by Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, which has developed five approved siRNA drugs. (Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, now owned by Novo Nordisk, has developed a sixth.)

In the case of CBP-4888, the drug is meant to reduce the production of sFlt1 in the placenta.

“For the first time, we are able to target a root cause of this disease, potentially ameliorating its significant consequences and, in the process, take an important step toward improving the maternal health crisis, ensuring safer pregnancies, and delivering benefits that resonate across multiple facets of society globally,” said Comanche CEO Scott Johnson in a statement.

Along with the financing, Comanche announced it has appointed former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to its board of directors. Gottlieb is currently a partner at New Enterprise Associates and a member of Pfizer’s board of directors.

The Series B was led by NEA, which was joined by new investor Atlas Venture as well existing backers GV, F-Prime Capital, Lilly Asia Ventures and Longview Healthcare Ventures.

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