Compound Therapeutics Inc. has hit the ground running after closing a $12 million Series A round of financing.

The Waltham, Mass.-based company expects to apply the funding to develop its new class of protein drugs - Adzymes, or addressable enzymes.

"This is a challenging fund-raising environment for any early stage company, but what I think made the difference for us was our compelling technology for creating a new class of biotherapeutics," Compound President and CEO Frank Lee told BioWorld Today. "I think investors are looking at potential new solutions in the product area."

Lee, who added that Compound's management experience in protein-based drug development also played to the investors' tastes, said the funding should last about two years.

Founded in September, the privately held company's Adzyme compounds are designed to combine the catalytic activity of enzymes with the target-binding specificity associated with antibodies and receptors.

"We are developing novel molecules that will bind to a particular therapeutic target and exploit the catalytic-activity enzyme to modify and activate that target," Lee said.

Compound initially plans to operate in the autoimmune and inflammatory therapeutic area, focusing on tumor necrosis factor as the target of its molecules.

"They will be just as selective as some of the current anti-TNF protein drugs that are out on the market, but will be significantly more potent, based on their catalytic activity," Lee said. "We see that as one, but not the only, key advantage of this class of molecules."

He added that the modular nature of the molecules - they can exchange binding domains - would allow Compound to develop Adzymes against a number of target classes.

The company has developed molecules and expects to advance them into preclinical studies late this year and next year. Down the road, Lee envisions Compound taking its drugs into early clinical development and then seeking to partner later-stage work.

A trio of venture capital firms co-led the financing - Boston-based Atlas Venture; Cambridge, Mass.-based Flagship Ventures; and Waltham-based Polaris Venture Partners. The firms also added representatives to Compound's board, including Noubar Afeyan, senior managing director at Flagship; Jean-Francois Formela, senior principal at Atlas; and Terry McGuire, managing general partner at Polaris.

Afeyan is one of Compound's founders, along with Lee and Gordon Wong, the company's chief scientific officer.

A dozen employees draw paychecks from Compound, although Lee said the company would soon add to its staff through protein engineering, enzymology and cell biology positions.