Venture Capital

Fauna Bio Raises $9 Million Seed Round

EMERYVILLE — Fauna Bio, a biotechnology company leveraging animal genomics to improve human health, has raised $9 million in Seed funding led by LifeForce Capital, with participation from True Ventures, Boom Capital, Pacific 8 Ventures, BioMed Ventures, Vibe Capital and Arcadia Science.

Fauna Bio said it will use the new funds to expand its drug discovery platform Convergence while accelerating the discovery of new therapeutic targets for human diseases across a broad range of indications.

Fauna Bio harnesses the power of comparative and functional genomics to find better therapies for human disease, including neurologic, metabolic, fibrotic, and cardiovascular disorders. The initial version of Convergence uses gene expression data from hibernating mammals due to their extreme biology and their remarkable ability to reverse disease-causing traits. The platform has so far identified two compounds and four novel genetic targets currently undergoing evaluation for heart disease and related disorders. The company also collaborates with Novo Nordisk on a target discovery program for obesity. Additionally, Fauna Bio has identified seven novel genetic targets to reduce fibrosis, which is a core component of many chronic and debilitating diseases, including NASH and cardiovascular disease secondary to chronic kidney disease and diabetic cardiomyopathy.

“Studying human biology and genetics alone has still left us with many unanswered questions, gaps in knowledge, and without treatments to many serious diseases that could be aided by looking outside our own species,” said Ashley Zehnder, DVM, Ph.D., CEO of Fauna Bio. “Through millions of years of evolution, animals have developed ways to naturally resist and heal from a range of conditions that still plague humans. We are using these natural synergies between us and other mammals to improve health and wellness and, ultimately, longevity in humans.”

As the company advances its internal pipeline towards clinical testing, Bryan Burkey, Ph.D., has joined Fauna Bio as Head of Therapeutics Discovery. Dr. Burkey is an experienced drug discovery and development professional who has led and contributed, to efforts ranging from target discovery to NDA filing. He led biology and translational pharmacology efforts for 23 years at Novartis Research, in addition to five years at Zafgen, Inc., and most recently was the Head of Systems Biology at Walden Biosciences. Over his career, he developed expertise in metabolic and cardiovascular pharmacology as well as safety assessment. Bryan excels at integrating information across in vitro target/pathway to in vivo physiology/pharmacology to enable better drug development.

The new investors in this funding round bring biotechnology and computational expertise to aid Fauna Bio’s development and expansion into new disease areas.

Lifeforce Capital invests in companies that are creating new ways to solve the biggest problems in healthcare,” said John Noonan, Managing Partner of LifeForce Capital. “The all-female co-founding team at Fauna Bio exemplifies the cross-discipline collaboration the field of medicine needs to foster innovation and achieve real progress in discovering new ways to treat serious diseases.”