Pretzel Therapeutics launches with $72.5m Series A to pioneer mitochondrial therapies

Pretzel set to leverage expertise in mitochondrial biology to advance novel treatments for both rare and common diseases and is backed by world-class investor syndicate.

Pretzel Therapeutics, a biotech seeking to harness the intricacies of mitochondrial biology to develop groundbreaking therapies, launched yesterday with a $72.5 million Series A financing to pioneer novel therapies to modulate mitochondrial function.

The financing was led by ARCH Venture Partners and Mubadala Capital with participating investors HealthCap, Cambridge Innovation Capital, Cambridge Enterprise, Angelini Ventures, GV, Invus, Eir Ventures, GU Ventures and Karolinska Institutet Holding.

Longevity.Technology: Dysfunctional mitochondria are involved in more than 50 diseases, so any longevity researcher worth their salt understands the importance of investigating them. The most severe of these conditions are broadly termed mitochondrial diseases, a group of rare genetic conditions which can affect individuals of all ages. Mitochondrial dysfunction also plays an important role in more common diseases, including aging-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. In addition, modulating mitochondrial biology presents a potential approach to the treatment of diseases not directly caused by mitochondrial dysfunction, for instance cancer and metabolic diseases.

“We are excited to pioneer a new era in the treatment of diseases related to mitochondrial dysfunction,” said Jay Parrish, PhD, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Pretzel. “The expertise we have assembled and the platform technologies we have created will allow new inroads into treating both rare genetic diseases as well as common diseases of aging.”

He added: “We’re proud to be backed by an outstanding investor syndicate, with a Series A financing that will allow us to prosecute preclinical development across our pipeline and continue to build out our talented team [1].”

“Pretzel is advancing a first-of-its-kind platform to modulate mitochondrial biology, with a vast range of potential applications across rare and common disorders,” said Alaa Halawa, MBA, Partner and Head of the US Ventures business at Mubadala Capital.

“As investors focused on partnering ear6ly with companies that will positively impact patients’ lives, we’re proud to co-lead the company’s Series A financing and to partner with Pretzel on their journey to build the world’s leading center of excellence addressing diseases of mitochondrial dysfunction [1].”

Pretzel’s platform encompasses three primary technologies to modulate mitochondrial function: Genome correction, genome expression modulation and mitochondrial quality control.

The company’s genome correction therapeutics will use specialised gene-editing tools to reduce mutated mitochondrial DNA and increase the levels of healthy mitochondrial DNA. Genome expression modulation will be accomplished using small molecules that act on the enzymes involved in mitochondrial DNA replication, transcription and translation. Finally, mitochondrial quality control will be targeted using small molecules that modulate mitochondria’s built-in quality control system.

Founders and Team

Pretzel’s founders include three leading academics in the field of mitochondrial biology. Claes Gustafsson, MD, PhD, is professor of medical biochemistry at the University of Gothenburg and an expert in mitochondrial gene expression. Michal Minczuk, PhD, is a Group Leader and MRC Investigator at the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit, University of Cambridge and an expert in mitochondrial genome engineering. Nils-Göran Larsson, MD, PhD, is professor of mitochondrial genetics at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics at Karolinska Institutet who has published over 150 articles on mitochondrial biology.

In addition to Drs Gustafsson, Minczuk, and Larsson, founders Gabriel Martinez, PhD and Paul Thurk, PhD, played a formative role in the company’s creation based on their deep biotechnology industry expertise.

“Mitochondria have historically been a challenging cellular organelle to target therapeutically, in part because mitochondrial diseases are extremely diverse, both genetically and phenotypically, but also due to the distinctive characteristics of mitochondrial genome function,” said Claes Gustafsson.

“However, scientific understanding of mitochondrial biology has greatly advanced in recent years, allowing new insights into their role in many prevalent diseases, as well as how they can be therapeutically targeted. It’s gratifying to form Pretzel to translate these insights into therapies that could meaningfully improve people’s lives [1].”

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