Basel gains new biotech in Bright Peak

Versant Ventures has made a US$35 million Series A funding commitment to Bright Peak Therapeutics and has now announced the debut of this biotech. It will operate in Basel and San Diego.

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Versant Ventures, a healthcare venture capital firm from Silicon Valley with an office in Basel, launched Bright Peak Therapeutics. Bright Peak will operate across sites in Basel and San Diego. The internal research and development team is based in Basel. They will be working alongside a founding team of leading scientists who, according to a press release, have made major contributions to the fields of protein engineering.

Bright Peaks, a developer of next-generation protein therapeutics, will be receiving seed capital of US$35 million from Versant Ventures. The biotech company has a portfolio of designer cytokines with the potential to be advanced as novel immune-oncology therapeutics. This pipeline was developed within Versant’s Ridgeline laboratories in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH).

Bright Peak’s technology platform has been licensed by ETH. It allows a wide range of proteins to be chemically assembled de novo in order to optimize their function.

Bright Peak’s chemistry know-how originated in the laboratory of co-founder Jeffrey Bode, professor of organic chemistry at ETH and a leader in the chemical synthesis of proteins. The fact this technology is “delivering substantial quantities of precisely tailored proteins” is gratifying, said Bode: “I look forward to exploring the breadth of this approach with the team at Bright Peak.”

Versant has recruited “industry veteran” Sef Kurstjens to join as Bright Peak president and CEO. Alongside Bode, the company’s scientific founders and advisors include John Teijaro, associate professor in the department of immunology and microbiology at the Scripps Research Institute, and Dr Markus Enzelberger, partner at Versant since 2002 and recognized as an “authority in the field of protein engineering”.

With Versant’s anchor investment, the company plans to expand its 20-member team to more than 30 scientists this year and expects to advance its lead program into clinical testing in 2021. Bright Peak will also pursue Pharma partners in parallel with financial investors over the coming months.

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