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Santa Ana Bio Emerges From Stealth With Google Ventures Backing

ALAMEDA –Santa Ana Bio, a precision immunology company developing targeted therapies for patients with autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, has emerged from stealth with $168 million in combined Series A and B funding. Founding investor Versant Ventures led the Series A round and was joined by TPG’s Life Science Innovations fund and GV (Google Ventures). The $125 million Series B round was led by GV, with participation from all existing investors as well as new investors Access Biotechnology, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) Bio + Health and RTW.

The vast majority of biologics for autoimmune disease target cytokines, which are the messengers but not the causal agents. Nor do these treatments discriminate diseased from healthy tissue. Santa Ana employs proteomic, transcriptomic and genomic approaches to precisely characterize disease-specific subpopulations and identify targets only on disease-causing cell types leaving healthy cells unaffected. This approach addresses the shortcomings of current biological treatments, including patient heterogeneity, durability of response and safety.

“Precision medicines offer the ability to target defined cell types and pathways to disrupt the pathogenic biology driving disease,” said Peter Emtage, Ph.D., CEO and board member of Santa Ana and a venture partner at Versant. “By identifying pathogenic cell types and pathways, and leveraging our deep protein engineering capabilities including monoclonal, bi-specific antibodies and ADCs, we aim to expand the reach of biologics to patients across numerous inflammatory diseases.”

Dr. Emtage has more than 20 years of drug development experience in the fields of autoimmunity, inflammation, oncology and infectious diseases. He previously served as the global head of cell therapy research at Kite Pharma, a Gilead company. Prior to that he was CSO at Cell Design Labs, which was acquired by Gilead, and VP of immune-mediated therapy at MedImmune.

“Each of Santa Ana’s programs builds upon clinical precedent, yet provides important differentiation from past approaches,” said Jerel Davis, Ph.D., managing director at Versant and board chair of Santa Ana. “Given the breadth of these programs and pipeline, Santa Ana clearly has optionality to advance these promising internal programs and to pursue partnerships.”

“We’re thrilled to lead the Santa Ana Series B and support Peter and the team as they advance a pipeline of antibodies for autoimmune diseases,” said Brendan Bulik-Sullivan, Ph.D., a Santa Ana board member and general partner at GV. “Peter is a preeminent expert in immunology and has brought together a distinguished group of scientific leaders to advance lead programs. We’re impressed with the company’s rapid execution, excellent preclinical data, and progress during its stealth phase.”