Company’s Drug Discovery Platform Based on Groundbreaking Science on mTORC1 Pathway by Scientific Founder David Sabatini of the Whitehead Institute
June 19, 2014
Navitor Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing novel medicines by targeting cellular nutrient signaling, today announced a $23.5 million Series A financing.
Proceeds from the financing will be used to augment Navitor’s proprietary drug discovery platform and accelerate the development of a pipeline of novel drugs that target cellular nutrient signaling via the mTORC1 pathway to address a wide range of diseases, including metabolic, neurodegenerative, autoimmune and musculoskeletal diseases, as well as several rare disorders. Investors in the Series A financing include Polaris Partners, Atlas Venture, Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, SR One and The Longevity Fund.
“With a proprietary platform and a world-class scientific team, Navitor is uniquely positioned to target newly discovered nutrient signaling mechanisms that drive protein synthesis and cellular growth. We are harnessing this approach to develop novel therapeutics to treat a wide range of chronic diseases and rare disorders,” said George P. Vlasuk, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Navitor.
Navitor’s proprietary drug discovery platform is designed to develop first-in-class selective modulators of mTORC1, which control the cell’s central signaling in response to nutrient availability, particularly amino acids. The selective modulation of mTORC1 offers a new and targeted approach to create new medicines for a variety of clinical indications and to significantly expand the therapeutic potential of a clinically validated pathway.
Navitor’s scientific founder, David M. Sabatini, MD, PhD, Professor of Biology at MIT, Member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and Investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has led groundbreaking research in the molecular regulation of the mTORC1 pathway, and his discoveries are seminal contributions to the field of cellular nutrient signaling. The company has exclusive access from the Whitehead Institute to fundamental intellectual property from Dr. Sabatini’s laboratory relating to nutrient sensing via the mTORC1 pathway for use in pharmaceutical and other applications.
The Series A financing will enable the expansion of Navitor’s drug discovery platform, including the further development of the company’s proprietary technologies, tools and assays to address the complexity of the mTORC1 pathway. Depending on the targeted disease, the company’s novel therapeutics have the potential to either “turn up” or “turn down” nutrient-responsive cellular pathways to restore normal mTORC1 function. By selectively targeting aberrant cellular nutrient signaling mediated by the mTORC1 pathway, Navitor is creating a new class of therapeutics designed to rebalance these signals to restore normal function and address the underlying biology of multiple diseases.
“Navitor represents a rare convergence of innovative science, world-class scientific advisors, and an experienced team with the potential to create significant value based on breakthrough science,” said Alan Crane, Founder and Chairman of Navitor and a Partner at Polaris Partners. “We are excited to be a part of building a biopharmaceutical company with the potential to offer new approaches to treat a wide range of important diseases and have a significant impact for patients.”
Also supporting Navitor’s drug discovery endeavors is a Scientific Advisory Board featuring some of the most renowned scientific experts within the fields of mTOR biology and drug discovery, including David Sabatini, Navitor’s scientific founder; Brian Hubbard, PhD, Director of the Therapeutic Projects Group at The Broad Institute; Thomas Hughes, PhD, CEO of Zafgen; Brendan Manning, PhD, Professor of Genetics and Complex Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health; Blake Rasmussen, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Nutrition and Metabolism at the University of Texas Medical Branch; and James Tobin, PhD, VP of Cardiovascular and Metabolism Scientific Innovation at Johnson & Johnson Innovation LLC. The Scientific Advisory Board has evolved and expanded to reflect Navitor’s focus and know-how regarding the mTOR pathway, which is an outgrowth of the company’s founding and seed stage as Calorics Pharmaceuticals.
About the mTORC1 Pathway
The mTOR kinase exists in two multi-protein complexes within the cell, called mTORC1 and mTORC2. Both complexes are critical signaling nodes that regulate multiple cellular functions including metabolism, growth and response to changes in the cell’s environment. mTORC1 is primarily responsible for the cell’s response to nutrient availability, specifically amino acids, resulting in increased or reduced cell growth. The key role of mTORC1 in nutrient signaling makes it central to many disease processes and thus a key target for the development of new therapeutic agents targeting nutrient signaling pathways. The challenge, however, has been the selective targeting of mTORC1 since currently marketed drugs targeting the mTOR kinase do not distinguish between mTORC1 and mTORC2. This lack of selectivity has led to undesirable side effects observed with chronic drug administration that inhibits the function of mTORC2 in maintaining cellular health and mediating the response to important growth factors such as insulin. Navitor is leveraging a proprietary biological understanding of cellular nutrient signaling pathways to develop selective modulators of mTORC1 activity as a new approach to significantly expand the therapeutic potential of the clinically validated mTOR pathway to address underserved diseases.
Navitor Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is a biopharmaceutical company developing novel medicines by targeting cellular nutrient signaling pathways. The company’s proprietary drug discovery platform targets mTORC1, which responds to and integrates the cell’s response to nutrient availability and plays a key role in protein synthesis and cellular growth. Navitor’s therapeutics are designed to selectively modulate the cellular signals that are aberrant in disease processes caused by the dysregulation of mTORC1 activity to address a wide range of diseases, including metabolic, neurodegenerative, autoimmune and musculoskeletal diseases, as well as several rare disorders. The company’s founding intellectual property is based on the groundbreaking discoveries related to the mTORC1 pathway and nutrient signaling mechanisms by Dr. David Sabatini at The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. The company is backed by leading financial and corporate investors, including Polaris Partners, Atlas Venture, Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, SR One and The Longevity Fund. For more information, please visit www.navitorpharma.com.