SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—DiCE Molecules, a company using its proprietary DNA-encoded library platform to discover and develop next-generation therapeutics in immunology, has announced the completion of an $80 million Series C financing round.
“We are thrilled to have the support of this stellar group of investors as we continue to advance important new medicines for patients suffering from debilitating autoimmune diseases,” said Dr. Kevin Judice, CEO of DiCE Molecules. “This financing will enable us to accelerate our lead IL-17 program through important milestones while advancing our other assets, including a pair of integrin inhibitors, and also to expand our pipeline using the same combination of technology and structural insights. We believe the immunology space is underserved by current small molecule approaches and we are excited about the opportunity to advance next-generation therapeutics for this patient population.”
Proceeds from the financing will support the progression of DiCE’s oral IL-17 antagonist into clinical trials, and will enable the advancement and expansion of its preclinical portfolio of additional PPI antagonists. The IL-17 family of cytokines are strong inducers of inflammation, and are implicated in a variety of autoimmune diseases like psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.
In connection with the financing, Dr. Jake Simson will be joining DiCE’s board of directors. Simson works on both public and private investments as a partner at RA Capital Management, and serves as a board director for Xenikos, Tyra Biosciences, and AavantiBio. He holds a B.S. in materials science and engineering from MIT, and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University.
“We are looking forward to working with RA Capital Management and our additional new investors as we continue to build DiCE into a leading player in small molecule immunology. We are fortunate to have these investors join the DiCE team, and we welcome Jake Simson to our Board,” noted Dr. Richard Scheller, chairman of the board of DiCE.
DiCE utilizes its proprietary DNA-encoded library (DEL) technology, combined with unique structural insights, to generate small molecule antagonists against a range of protein-protein-interface (PPI) targets. The DiCE DEL strategy relies on well-curated libraries of compounds that are customized on a target-by-target basis, allowing DiCE to carry out medicinal chemistry on a massive scale — greater than 100,000 unique data points per target.
DiCE says that by employing its unique screening approaches, the company can use its DEL platform to move beyond simple identification of binders and into defining the SAR of functional inhibition of the targets in question. This accelerates the hit-to-lead phase of small molecule drug discovery. To date, this approach has been used to successfully inhibit four PPI targets, three of which are in immunology and owned outright by DiCE. The fourth is in immuno-oncology, and is part of a long-standing partnership with Sanofi. All of the DiCE pipeline targets are well-validated, usually by precursor antibodies that have already progressed to market, which DiCE believes markedly lowers target risk.
“We believe the DiCE team is poised to disrupt the multibillion dollar IL-17 class with a molecule that combines a best-in-class efficacy and convenience profile,” Simson added. “Beyond IL-17, we are excited to partner with the DiCE team and this high quality investor syndicate to continue to identify and develop best-in-class oral molecules to disrupt biologic drugs across immunology indications."