Discovering Biotech Startups: A map for Selling to Snap Bio


Written by:
David Wilkerson

This branch of our Sponsor Atlas series focuses on young pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that are in early stages or stealth mode. In the next edition of Sponsor Atlas: Discovering Biotech Startups, we’re looking at Snap Bio, exploring the current affairs and future orientation of this emerging San Diego - based stealth biotech company. To accomplish this, we will give a business overview of their current operations, summarize their outsourcing needs, map out their development goals and decision-makers, and highlight their current strategies for capturing innovation. If you haven’t already read our other blogs on new biotech startups, be sure to check them out here.   

Snap Bio, Inc. is a preclinical oncology company focused on delivering first-in-class treatments through a pioneering cell-free-biosynthesis platform. Their mission is to help patients suffering from challenging cancers where improved therapeutics are needed most.    

Business Overview

Snap Bio does not have any registered trademarks, but they do have a decent website with some information about their pipeline, executive backgrounds, and some specifics on their research and development. Snap’s principal place of business is located at 4757 Nexus Center Dr., San Diego, CA 92121. As noted on the business entity search, Snap Bio was registered in Delaware as a C-Corp with a filing date on 06/28/2017 and has a registered agent address. Snap Bio is categorized under Commercial Biotechnical Research, has an annual revenue of $128,239, and employs a staff of approximately 2-5.   

In November 2018, Snap Bio joined Torrey Pines Investment’s early drug discovery program through its i2020 Accelerator specialty investment framework, which includes a three-way partnership with ChemDiv, Inc. Snap Bio will leverage ChemDiv's unique integrated discovery platform, while Torrey Pines Investment will deploy its financial and BD&L capabilities to help Snap Bio advance their highly potent and selective kinase inhibitors for treating endodermal cancers and autoimmune diseases. [1] Torrey Pines Investment is a specialty life-science investment firm that invests in development stage molecules, diagnostics, and therapeutics in areas of high unmet medical need. [2] By rapidly de-risking novel science and enriching partner pipelines with best-in-class molecules, i2020 helps accelerate early stage drug discovery platforms towards advanced lead and clinical candidate level within a two-year framework. i2020's vast scientific and global resource network tailored specifically to the needs of early drug development programs allows it to take on projects in a wide array of therapeutic areas, from immunology to infectious diseases and beyond. By successfully leveraging agile development principles and flexible partnering business models, i2020 plans to co-create 15 diverse drug discovery programs in the near future. [3]  

Outsourcing History

Snap Bio doesn’t have a lot of information about their current outsourcing needs, but considering their recent investment funding, we think they are in a great position to finance a ton of outsourcing work. The company is still in startup mode but they are already developing several small molecule lead candidates for treatment of Hepatocellular carcinoma and Hepatoblastoma. Snap recently completed a successful milestone with an outstanding selectivity profile and promising overall animal data in rodents for the lead candidates. We think this would be a great time to contact Snap Bio if you’re interested in providing outsourcing services related to their R&D and downstream development of endodermal cancer therapies. Any experience with these types of diseases and the technologies surrounding it would be of tremendous benefit to Snap Bio at this point in time.                      

The firm last filed a Sec Form D notice of exempt offering of securities on 8/21/2018 for $3.2M. The notice included securities offered of debt, option, warrant or other right to acquire another security. We haven’t been able to find any other types of funding for Snap Bio, but considering their large amount of recent investment funding, we believe the company should have a lot of capital to play with for outsourcing downstream work in the near future. We think business development teams in the realms of pilot scale CMOs, preclinical CROs with experience in endodermal cancerous animal model development, and bioanalytical service providers with expertise in high potency kinase inhibitors should definitely reach out to Snap Bio as soon as possible.                

Snap Bio’s Pipeline and R&D Focus

Snap Bio is a preclinical development company focused on delivering highly potent and selective kinase inhibitors as first-in-class treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases. Snap Bio’s unique approach starts with extremely potent kinase inhibitors that have evolved in nature over the course of millions of years. Rather than relying on conventional medicinal chemistry to modify these favoured scaffolds, Snap Bio employs its breakthrough synthetic biology and cell-free biosynthesis platform to generate scaffold diversity and optimize the properties of their inhibitors. Using this innovative technology, Snap Bio is able to make thousands of previously inaccessible analogs in a short amount of time, thus enabling rapid SAR analysis against the hundreds of kinase crystal structures available to date. This approach has been validated through their lead program involving SNP-118, a potent and selective kinase inhibitor that disrupts the growth and survival mechanisms of endodermal cancers, including malignancies of the liver, stomach, colon, and pancreas. Snap Bio has assembled an outstanding team of experts, advisors, and partners to advance its promising endodermal cancer program, along with an earlier stage asset targeting a kinase in the T-cell receptor signaling pathway for treating autoimmune diseases. [4]

Endodermal cancers include malignancies of the pancreas, stomach, prostate, colon, and liver, which are characterized by exceptionally poor prognosis and represent three of the lowest cancer survival rates known to man. The complexity and heterogeneity of genetic mutations responsible for driving endodermal cancer cell growth has imposed a ton of bottlenecks in developing effective drugs for treating these cancers. Currently all of the standard treatments on the market are highly toxic, in addition to providing very limited overall survival benefit which is normally 6 months or less. A clear unmet medical need exists for new endodermal cancer treatments, and to address that need, Snap Bio is developing potent and selective kinase inhibitors as precision medicines that are designed to disrupt specific cancer survival mechanisms and halt cancer cell growth while minimizing adverse side effects.      

In the human body there are more than 518 kinases mediating cellular signaling pathways that are involved in critical physiological functions, such as replenishing of new cells and removal of unwanted cells. Kinases also play a major role in our immune system by transducing signals from the cell surface to the cell nucleus, which directs the cell’s response to an external stimulus. Aberrant kinase signaling is known to be a leading factor involved in many cancers, immune disorders and other diseases. Kinase inhibitors are effective drugs for treating cancers and over fifty kinase inhibitors have now been approved for oncology indications. However, most approved kinase inhibitors display low selectivity and hit many kinases simultaneously, thus leading to undesirable toxicity and adverse effects. Snap Bio’s technology platform is designed to overcome these challenges and the platform has been validated through their preclinical candidate SNP-162, which displays high amounts of kinase selectivity and potency. SNP-162 also is highly active against a range of cancer cell types, including liver cancer cell lines such as HepG2, Hep3B and Huh7. 

Decision Making

  • Mark J. Burk, Ph.D. - is a founding member of Snap Bio. Mark earned a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Yale University and performed postdoctoral work at MIT with Nobel laureate Barry Sharpless. Mark has published over 80 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts and is an inventor on over 200 issued patents. Mark has received many honors and awards and has presented over 300 lectures at major conferences and universities. Dr. Burk was also a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Duke University for four years, following five years in Central Research at DuPont, where he invented the DuPHOS technology for the generation of novel amino acids, peptides, and other therapeutics. [5]
  • Brandon Chen, Ph.D. - is a founding member of Snap Bio. Brandon completed his post-doctoral training in cell biology and bioinformatics at The Scripps Research Institute. He earned his Ph.D. in microbiology and molecular genetics and an M.B.A. in healthcare from the University of California, Irvine. Brandon is also a trained clinical laboratory scientist with a B.S. in human physiology, medical technology and medical microbiology. With his industrial experience in leadership and management, Brandon has led R&D teams to develop several commercial applications and conduct the research projects in the fields of cancer cell biology, synthetic biology, metabolic engineering and genetic engineering. [6]
  • Mike Venuti, Ph.D. - is an Advisor for Drug Development at Snap Bio. Dr. Venuti holds an A.B. from Dartmouth College, and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from MIT. Mike is CSO of NeuroTherapeutics Pharma, a position he has held since July 2011. From 2010-2011, Venuti served as President and CEO of Ipierian, Inc. Prior to joining iPierian, Venuti served as CEO and board member for BioSeek, Inc., which was acquired by Asterand plc in 2010. He previously served as CEO and board member for Discovery Partners International. Dr. Venuti led the merger of Discovery Partners into Infinity Pharmaceuticals in 2006. From 2001-2005, he held positions as SVP at Celera Genomics. He also served as SVP at Axys Pharmaceuticals prior to its acquisition by Celera. Prior to joining Axys, Venuti was director of Bioorganic Chemistry at Genentech, and began his research career in medicinal chemistry at Syntex Research. [7]  
  • Dan Harvey, Ph.D. - is an Advisor for Preclinical to Clinical at Snap Bio. Dr. Harvey received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Yale University and a B.A. in Chemistry from University of California, Santa Barbara. Dan is currently VP Operations at Alume Biosciences. Prior to Alume, he was COO at Dart Neuroscience, CEO of ChemVentures, Senior Director at BioFocus DPI, and VP & GM Discovery Chemistry at Discovery Partners. [8]   

Innovation

Snap Bio’s approach harnesses the power of synthetic biology, medicinal chemistry, molecular simulation and machine learning to discover and develop new therapeutics for oncology. This innovative platform is the core of our drug discovery engine that provides high speed access to novel new chemical entities (NCEs) and thus rapidly advances lead candidates through the drug discovery and development process. Furthermore, their unique platform technology enables structural modification of modular scaffolds in ways that previously were not possible, thus allowing them to rapidly optimize selectivity, solubility, metabolic stability, and other properties important for clinical success. [9

It is historically known that cancer cells often alter normal cellular signaling pathways to subsequently promote uncontrolled tumor growth through stimulation of cell proliferation and activation of cell survival mechanisms. In turn, the rapid proliferation of cancer cells enables a high frequency of genetic mutations that often lead to cancer drug resistance. For example, Sorafenib resistance in liver cancer patients is acquired rapidly, which limits the effectiveness of this first-line therapy. Snap Bio is taking a genetic marker-driven approach to overcome cancer drug resistance. This approach has been validated through their lead program involving highly potent and selective kinase inhibitors that disrupt multiple genetically-defined cancer growth and associated survival pathways. Their molecules inhibit different growth and proliferation pathways relative to FDA-approved drugs, like Sorafenib and Regorafenib, for advanced liver cancer and they have demonstrated strong synergistic effects to halt cancer cell growth when used in combination with these products.         

Snap Bio’s innovative approach has enabled them to develop a new class of bispecific inhibitors that can simultaneously and selectively inhibit multiple targets. Disease is often caused by more than one dysfunctional enzyme or pathway and the ability to design molecules that exhibit precision polypharmacology can afford significant benefits, such as higher efficacy, fewer side effects, and reduced drug resistance. In addition, bispecific inhibitors can target multiple disease pathways without pharmacokinetic imbalance, leading to easier, faster, cheaper, and lower risk in clinical trials relative to drug combination therapies. As far as innovation goes, Snap Bio is advancing its bispecific inhibitor platform and is focused on developing new molecules that simultaneously inhibit kinases and other targets involved in cancer.      

While it’s still fairly difficult to determine what Snap Bio will have to offer during startup mode, their amount of investment funding is massive, and with the backgrounds of the executive team, we think they are on track to create some major breakthroughs in the biotech industry over the next few years. Be sure to keep Snap Bio on your contact list and look out for our next edition in this series coming soon.

How can I find new biotech startups?

If you would like a simple solution for keeping an eye on drug sponsor companies, like Snap Bio, without relying on a database and generic lists of leads each week, we at Zymewire are here to help. Reach out today, and stay tuned for the next installment of the Sponsor Atlas: Discovering new Biotechs. If you enjoy these articles, please feel free to give them a share through the social links below! 

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