Dren Bio, Inc., a company developing powerful protein-engineering technologies for depletion of cells, protein aggregates and other disease-causing agents, announced the closing of a $60 million Series A investment round. The round was led by SR One and Taiho Ventures, LLC , with participation from existing investors 8VC and Mission BioCapital and new investors including BVF Partners L.P., HBM Healthcare Investments, and Alexandria Venture Investments.
Dren will utilize the proceeds to advance its two lead programs through early clinical development. Dren’s first program, DR-01, is an antibody-based therapy to treat rare leukemias and lymphomas as well as specific phenotypes of auto-immune disorders. Dren’s second program, DR-02, is an enhanced antibody-based platform to deplete cells and other disease-causing agents through a novel mechanism-of-action.
"Our strategy is to select the appropriate immune cell type to induce potent and measurable therapeutic effects," said Nenad Tomasevic, PhD, Dren’s Chief Executive Officer and co-founder. "The DR-01 program employs enhanced ADCC to eliminate pathologic cells in clearly defined patient populations. Our DR-02 platform engages a different immune effector cell to a target, resulting in immune stimulation and target depletion."
Dr. Tomasevic brings over twenty years of biotech development experience and previously co-founded Allakos, a clinical-stage, publicly-traded company nearing commercialization.
Lewis Lanier, PhD, Chair of Dren’s Scientific Advisory Board, said, "Dren’s therapies are exciting because they offer novel strategeies to meet an unmet need in treatment of lymphomas and leukemias and to potentially enhance the potency of T cells in cancer immunotherapy." Dr. Lanier is the Chair of Microbiology and Immunology and the J. Michael Bishop MD Distinguished Professor at UCSF.
"We are impressed by Dren’s progress since the company’s inception in 2019," commented Rajeev Dadoo, Partner at SR One. "The DR-01 program has a clear development path to the clinic, focusing on diseases with no approved therapies."
"In oncology, the DR-02 platform could enable direct and selective depletion of cancer cells accompanied by localized immune stimulation," said Sakae Asanuma, President at Taiho Ventures. "The technology is also demonstrating the potential to eliminate agents in diverse diseases, including infections and protein aggregation. We are proud to recognize Dren’s potential at an early stage and support its success."
Dren previously closed a $6 million Seed Financing in 2019 led by 8VC with participation by Mission BioCapital and prominent industry veterans. "We appreciate the support from Dren’s investors,who to date have committed over $66 million in funding for our programs," said John Wesley, co-founder and Chief Financial Officer. "The goal of our Series A financing is to bring two drug candidates to the clinic."
About Dren Bio
Dren Bio is a San Carlos, CA based biotechnology company developing powerful protein engineering technologies to deplete cells, protein aggregates and other disease-causing agents. Dren’s lead programs are initially focused on hematologic neoplasms and solid cancers. Dren is actively working in other areas including auto-immune disorders and diseases of protein aggregation. Dren’s team includes accomplished research and development personnel with strong collective industry experience. For more information, please visit: https://drenbio.com/
About SR One
SR One invests globally in emerging life science companies pursuing innovative science to significantly impact medical care. SR One’s team of investment professionals, located in the US and UK, have experience spanning basic science, drug development and commercialization. For more information, please visit: http://www.srone.com/<
About Taiho Ventures
Taiho Ventures, LLC is the strategic corporate venture capital arm of Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., a Japanese specialty pharma focusing on oncology, allergy and immunology, and urology. Taiho Ventures is looking at early-stage preclinical oncology companies as well as platform technology companies for our core therapeutic areas. Taiho Ventures will review the wide variety of modalities for both biologics and small molecules and also consider the option type of investments and spin-outs, in addition to the pure equity investments. For more information, please visit: https://www.taihoventures.com
8VC is a leading technology investment firm investing in visionary teams and backing industry-transforming companies. The partners have a proven track-record as founders, engineers, and operators of successful companies including Palantir, Addepar, Affinity and OpenGov, among others. The predecessor firm Formation 8 was founded in 2012 and today, manages $1.1 billion in committed capital. 8VC was founded in 2016 and manages $2.4 billion in committed capital. 8VC invests primarily in SaaS companies and biotechnology. For more information, please visit http://8vc.com.
About BVF Partners L.P.
BVF Partners L.P. is a San Francisco-based investment management firm with more than 26 years investing in public and private biotechnology companies. For more information, please visit: https://www.bvflp.com/
About HBM Healthcare Investments
HBM Healthcare Investments holds and manages an international portfolio of promising companies in the human medicine, biotechnology, medical technology and diagnostics sectors and related areas. HBM Healthcare Investments has an international shareholder base and is listed on SIX Swiss Exchange (ticker: HBMN). For more information, please visit: https://www.hbmhealthcare.com/
About Mission BioCapital
Mission BioCapital (MBC) brings together the teams of Mission Bay Capital and BioInnovation Capital into a single venture firm. MBC is focused on making pivotal, early-stage investments in life science companies. We support entrepreneurs through a unique combination of shared lab spaces, capital investment and access to strategic partners. https://www.missionbiocapital.com/
About Alexandria Venture Investments
Alexandria Venture Investments, founded in 1996, is the strategic venture capital platform of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. (NYSE:ARE). With more than $1B under management, Alexandria Venture Investments has been recognized by Silicon Valley Bank as the #1 most active investor in biopharma by new deal volume since 2017. Alexandria Venture Investments provides long-term strategic investment capital to transformative seed-, early- and growth-stage life science, technology and agtech companies advancing innovative platforms to improve human health. For more information, please visit www.are.com/venture-investments.html.
Nenad Tomasevic, co-founded Dren in 2019 and has served as a CEO and a member of our board of directors since inception. Prior to Dren, Nenad identified the opportunity and co-founded Allakos (ALLK) and operated as a VP of Research from 2012 until December 2018. During that time, he led and supported preclinical, manufacturing, translational biology and clinical activities. Preceding Allakos, he was director of Protein biochemistry at KaloBios where he assisted preclinical and clinical activities for 3 clinical-stage antibodies. At Nuvelo, he led a protein biochemistry group that accomplished numerous preclinical studies on protein and antibody therapeutics. Nenad started his career in biotech at Cytokinetics leading a team that identified small molecule inhibitors of key players involved in actin dynamics i.e. cell motility. The data have been published in prestigious scientific journals. He completed postdoctoral training at National Institutes of Health (NIDDK, Genetics and Biochemistry Branch) in Bethesda, Maryland and holds a PhD in protein chemistry from University of Belgrade.
John Wesley, CFA, MBA, co-founded Dren and joined as Chief Financial Officer in October 2020. Prior to Dren, John served as VP, Finance and Business Development and as a member of the Board of Directors at Omniox, Inc. Prior to Omniox, John spent over a decade investing in public and private opportunities at various funds, including Fremont Capital, Pequot Capital, H.I.G. Capital, and Concourse Capital. Earlier in his career, John worked in financial and strategic advisory roles at Morgan Stanley and Bain & Company. John received an MBA from the Wharton School and a B.S. in economics from Yale University. John is a CFA® charterholder.
Rajeev joined SR One in 2004 and is an alum of the Kauffman Fellows Program. His prior and current investments include Adheron, iPierian, True North, Propeller Health, Concert Pharmaceuticals, CyDex Pharmaceuticals, NeuroTherapeutics Pharma, Tranquis Therapeutics, IlluminOss Medical and Avhana Health. Rajeev also spent time with GSK’s competitive excellence group, where he worked on company-wide strategic projects and operational projects. Prior to SR One, Rajeev worked at Genentech, where his role included technology and clinical development, and at Bio-Rad Laboratories in a product development role. Rajeev received his B.A. in chemistry and mathematics from Knox College, his MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University.
Mr. Sakae Asanuma established Taiho Ventures as the founding President in 2016. Prior to this position, he was President and CEO at Astellas Venture Management and U.S. Head of Astellas Innovation Management from 2011–2015. Before joining Astellas, he worked for Yasuda Enterprise, a Japan/US-based VC firm from 2000–2011. He has invested in more than 50 biotech companies since 2000 and majority of which achieved IPOs or M&As. During his tenure at Taiho and Astellas, Mr. Asanuma closed dozens of research collaborations with academia and biotech ventures, including several build-to-buy or spin-out deals.
Alex Kolicich focuses on IT and Bio-IT investments.
Prior to joining 8VC, Alex was a Partner at Formation 8. Alex has also worked with Peter Thiel as a Principal at Mithril Capital Management, a growth-stage venture fund, where he helped lead investments in AppDirect, C2FO and Helion Energy.
Preceding his venture career, Alex worked as engineer and early-product advisor at Clarium, Palantir, and Google. He was an early member of the Clarium Capital quantitative engineering team (with Joe Lonsdale) and close advisor/collaborator with the early Palantir team; advising on product design and contributing to the product. At Google Research, Alex worked on Google Street-Views before and during launch. Preceding Street-Views, also at Google, he worked on the development and launch of the Google Checkout product.
Sam Huang is an Analyst at BVF Partners L.P., a San Francisco-based private investment firm that invests in biotechnology companies. Prior to joining BVF Partners L.P. in 2018, he worked with J.P. Morgan’s Healthcare Investment Banking team and co-founded a life-sciences focused MIT alumni angel group. He holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Chandra P. Leo joined the Private Equity Team of HBM Partners in 2007. His board and investment experience includes biotech and medtech companies such as ChemoCentryx (IPO NASDAQ), ESBATech (acquired by Alcon/Novartis), Homology Medicines (IPO NASDAQ), ObsEva (IPO NASDAQ), Symbiomix Therapeutics (acquired by Lupin), CardiacAssist (acquired by LivaNova) and Gynesonics.
Prior to HBM, Chandra served as a postdoctoral scientist at Stanford University Medical Center, as a physician at the University Hospital Leipzig (Germany) and as a principal in the life sciences team at Wellington Partners. He completed his medical studies in Berlin and London and holds a doctoral degree from the Freie Universität Berlin (Charité) and an MBA degree with distinction from INSEAD.
Robert is a passionate biotechnologist with a diverse skillset spanning business, life science, engineering and intellectual property. Robert Blazej has 10 years of operational experience both as a successful entrepreneur and as a leader within an international corporation.
Robert was CEO of Allopartis Biotechnologies, a company he co-founded with the vision that mircrodoplets would transform the scale and pace of life science research. Allopartis was acquired by Novozymes in 2013. After the acquisition, Robert directed Novozymes’ Digital Biotechnology unit in San Francisco and lead global biotechnology scouting efforts.
Robert earned his Ph.D. in Bioengineering jointly from UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco. He is a published contributor to the human, drosophila, and canine genome projects.
Lewis L. Lanier is an American Cancer Society Professor and the J. Michael Bishop MD
Distinguished Professor and Chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at
the University of California San Francisco and is Leader of the Cancer Immunity Program of
the UCSF Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center and Director of the Parker Institute for
Cancer Immunotherapy at UCSF. Dr. Lanier received his Ph.D. in Microbiology and
Immunology from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. After postdoctoral studies,
first at the Lineberg Cancer Center at the UNC – Chapel Hill and then as a Damon Runyon –
Walter Winchell Cancer Research Fellow at the University of New Mexico, he joined the
Research & Development Department at the Becton Dickinson Monoclonal Center in
Mountain View, California, advancing to Associate Director of Research and was a Becton
Dickinson Research Fellow. In 1990, he joined the DNAX Research Institute of Molecular and
Cellular Biology in Palo Alto, California, where he advanced to Director of Immunobiology.
In 1999, Dr. Lanier joined the faculty of UCSF. His research group studies Natural Killer
(NK) cells, which recognize and eliminate cells that have become transformed or infected by
viruses. In recognition of his scientific contributions he was awarded the William B. Coley
Award for Distinguished Research in Basic Tumor Immunology from the Cancer Research
Institute in 2002, in 2005 was given the Rose Payne Award for contributions to the field of
Immunogenetics by the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics, in 2010
was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences, and in 2011 was named a Fellow of the
American Academy of Microbiology and elected to the American Academy of Arts and
Sciences. He was awarded the 2017 Excellence in Mentoring Award from the American
Association of Immunologists, served as President from 2006-2007, and named an AAI
Distinguished Fellow in 2019. Dr. Lanier serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of several
pharma and biotech companies and research institutes and Editorial boards of scientific