West Coast Editor

“Performance-enhanced protein” might sound like a bodybuilder’s drink, but it’s also a technology platform for Gryphon Sciences Inc., which raised $26 million in a Series B financing to lift its first potential product into clinical trials early this year, as well as to advance drug candidates through Phase I/II studies, and target more candidates for development.

Craig Parker, director at the Sprout Group in Menlo Park, Calif., and New York, which led the financing with a $14 million investment, said Gryphon “hasn’t nominated other preclinical candidates specifically for the [investigational new drug application] track,” but has done much investigation of biological activity of other candidates. Parker will join Gryphon’s board of directors as part of the financing.

Company officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.

South San Francisco-based Gryphon, which is focused on cytokines and growth factors, uses chemistry and polymer technologies to synthesize therapeutic proteins chemically, thus ensuring what the company says are attributes superior to forms that are biologically produced.

Using the predicted protein sequence from gene sequence data, or a known protein sequence or starting with just the goal of creating a novel, site-specifically modified derivative or other analogue of a natural protein Gryphon makes the protein backbone by linking peptides through what it calls chemical protein synthesis. Included in that process are precision polyethylene glycol-like molecules, or pPEG-like molecules, intended to boost pharmacokinetics.

“It’s a solution-phase chemistry, so it’s simple,” Parker told BioWorld Today. “Certainly, a lot of people have tried it, but mostly at the academic level.”

Until its own therapies reach the potential marketing stage, Gryphon said, it will seek to out-license core products and spin-off technologies, while making deals with other companies for the use of its technology.

The Sprout Group was joined in the financing by Forward Ventures, of San Diego; BioAsia Investments LLC, of Palo Alto, Calif.; S.R. One, of West Conshohocken, Pa.; and others. Jeffrey Sollender, managing member of Forward Ventures, also will join Gryphon’s board.