Financing to drive leadership in AAV vector-delivered one-time therapies for major chronic pet health conditions
Company supported by leading life sciences investors and an R&D collaboration with the Gene Therapy Program in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Recent executive appointments provide global expertise in animal biologics clinical R&D, regulatory affairs, AAV manufacturing, and gene therapy research
PHILADELPHIA, April. 10, 2019 – Scout Bio, a biotechnology company focused on revolutionizing pet medicine by delivering a pipeline of one-time therapeutics for major chronic pet health conditions, today announced a $20 million Series B financing to advance its pipeline and expand clinical and other operations. The financing was co-led by Digitalis Ventures’ Companion Fund and RiverVest Venture Partners, and was joined by new investor GreenSpring Associates as well as existing investors Frazier Healthcare Partners, Adage Capital Management and Correlation Ventures. In conjunction with the financing, Nancy Hong of RiverVest Ventures, Cindy Cole of Digitalis Ventures, and Aditya Kohli of Frazier Healthcare Partners will join the board alongside existing directors Mark Heffernan, Tachi Yamada, and Patrick Heron.
Scout was founded to harness the same genetic revolution transforming human medicine to deliver the future of veterinary medicine. Scout is advancing a number of programs across chronic kidney disease, chronic pain and the inflammatory skin condition atopic dermatitis. The company’s approach is to deliver long-term expression of therapeutic proteins in pet patients using adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector technology, administered through a single intramuscular injection.
Scout Bio has entered into an AAV animal health research and development collaboration with the Gene Therapy Program (GTP) at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), led by Jim Wilson, M.D., Ph.D, a Scout scientific advisor and co-founder. The GTP has been a global leader in gene therapy research and vector discovery and development for nearly three decades. Through a separate license agreement between Scout and Penn, Scout is granted exclusive worldwide rights to multiple AAV-based veterinary product candidates and associated AAV technologies for animal health.
“Scout’s mission is to leverage advances in gene therapy to dramatically elevate the standard of care for multiple areas of veterinary medicine that currently rely on chronically administered medicines,” said Mark Heffernan, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Scout Bio. “Our approach is designed to provide improved patient outcomes via therapies that have a sustained duration of effect from a one-time dose, aligning with the significant market need for longer-lasting pet medications that improve compliance and convenience.”
“In the United States alone, there are 90 million dogs and 94 million cats, underscoring the opportunity in a new generation of medicines that dramatically improve standards of care for major chronic conditions. We are impressed with Scout’s strategy for meeting this need and look forward to supporting them into clinical development,” said Cindy Cole, DVM, Ph.D., Technical Partner at Digitalis Ventures.
“Scout has assembled an executive team which unites experts in animal biologics development with world-leading AAV research and manufacturing capabilities, a combination uniquely suited to deliver on the promise of the company’s technology platform for innovative veterinary medicines,” said Nancy Hong, Ph.D., Managing Director of RiverVest Ventures.
Scout’s most advanced therapeutic candidate is designed to deliver long-term expression of feline erythropoietin (EPO) in cats with anemia associated with chronic kidney disease. This condition leads to a progressive deterioration in quality-of-life, has no FDA-approved therapy, and current standards of care have severe drawbacks. Scout has recently demonstrated statistically significant increased red blood cell counts (an EPO biomarker) in cats for months after a single intramuscular injection, and has initiated a clinical pilot field study (the stage immediately prior to pivotal studies in animal health) for this program. A proprietary survey of 424 veterinarians indicated that over 90% of veterinarians would use a product with Scout’s target profile over all other treatments for feline anemia, citing life-long efficacy as its most attractive feature.
“The GTP is looking forward to extending its long-term leadership in AAV research and development into companion animal health to address the compliance challenges associated with frequent administration and provide new modalities for tackling chronic disease,” said Dr. Jim Wilson of Penn’s GTP. “There is now a confluence between matured gene therapy technologies and medical need in animal health, and we believe Scout is positioned very strongly at that intersection and opportunity.”
About Scout Bio
Scout Bio is a biotechnology company focused on revolutionizing pet medicine by delivering a pipeline of one-time therapeutics for major chronic pet health conditions. Scout has an exclusive research and development collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania’s Gene Therapy Program, which has been a global leader in gene therapy research and development for nearly three decades. Scout’s therapeutics are designed to induce long-term expression of therapeutic proteins in pet patients using AAV vector technology. Scout Bio is a private company headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit www.scoutbio.co.
Penn Financial Disclosure
Dr. Wilson is a Penn faculty member and also a scientific collaborator, consultant and co-founder of Scout Bio. As such, he holds an equity stake in the Company, receives sponsored research funding from Scout Bio, and as an inventor of the licensed technology he may receive additional financial benefits under the license in the future. The University of Pennsylvania also holds equity and licensing interests in Scout Bio.
Tom Donovan, Ten Bridge Communications
Digitalis is a venture capital firm that invests in solutions to complex problems in human and animal health. The firm partners with entrepreneurs, inventors, and scientists across all stages of venture investing, and its investments span the full continuum of the healthcare ecosystem. In addition to its healthcare activities, Digitalis manages the Companion Fund, the first venture capital fund to focus exclusively on innovations in pet care. Digitalis has offices in New York City, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. To learn more, please visit: www.digitalisventures.com.
About RiverVest Venture Partners
RiverVest Venture Partners is a venture capital firm focused on identifying and shaping early stage life science companies to create significant shareholder value. With hands-on, high-level expertise and financial resources, RiverVest supports entrepreneurs by helping them achieve near-term objectives that position their companies for exit. Visit www.rivervest.com and follow on Twitter @Rivervest.