Most available treatments for neurological disease act broadly across the brain, including in unwanted regions that cause intolerable side effects. Rapport Therapeutics — a clinical-stage biotech that was founded last year — is seeking to solve this problem by developing a therapy that can target specific areas in the brain in which disease originates. On Wednesday, the startup gained $150 million in Series B financing to help advance that goal.
The funding round was led by Cormorant Asset Management. Other participants included ARCH Venture Partners, Third Rock Ventures, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Sofinnova Investments and Johnson & Johnson Innovation.
Rapport’s Series B round brings its total funding to date to $250 million. The company, which splits its operations between Boston and San Diego, is well capitalized and does not expect to have to more raise funds until after 2027, said CEO Abraham Ceesay.
The biotech’s mission is to develop precision medicines that improve the lives of patients living with neurological conditions, he declared. The precision piece is key, because the majority of neurology treatments available today act broadly throughout the brain or central nervous system, Ceesay pointed out.
“Broad-acting medicines take an unspecific approach to stopping a disease in its tracks. While they may well reach areas in which treatment is needed, the lack of precision means medicine can negatively impact other parts of the brain and body as well, leading to unwanted or bad side effects, an inability to achieve optimal dosing and reduced efficacy. Taken together, these challenges create an environment where noncompliance with medication — or discontinuation altogether — is common among patients,” he explained.
Rapport’s science is centered around receptor-associated proteins (RAPs), which were discovered by the company’s chief scientific officer, David Bredt. RAPs help direct neurology medicines to specific regions of the brain where disease pathways occur — thus eliminating the risk of broader, unintended action.
Rapport’s platform leverages RAPs to create drugs that have more focused activity in the brain, going after disease-driving circuits and cell types. The company’s lead asset is currently in Phase I testing for treating drug-resistant seizure disorders, and Rapport expects to move the program into Phase II trials next year, Ceesay said.
There are plenty of biotech companies that focus on developing neurology drugs — including Denali Therapeutics, Cerebral Therapeutics and AgeneBio — but Ceesday contended that Rapport is “the only company that has a platform to systematically leverage RAPs for drug discovery and development.”
The startup’s chief scientific officer was also the first person ever to publish research on the discovery and characterization of RAPs, he added.
Photo: Eraxion, Getty Images