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Blackstone-backed biotech launches with up to $300M for immune drug

Dive Brief:

  • Uniquity Bio, a startup backed by Blackstone Life Sciences, is launching with a medicine ready for Phase 2 studies and as much as $300 million from the private equity firm to spend on development.
  • The drug, solrikitug, originally came from Merck and has the potential to treat a variety of immune and inflammatory conditions, Blackstone said Wednesday. It’s a monoclonal antibody that targets the protein TSLP, blocking which is thought to stop the body from an inflammatory overreaction that triggers problems like asthma attacks.
  • Phase 2 studies in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease will begin in the next month. The company is ultimately looking at several respiratory and gastrointestinal indications with “significant unmet needs,” according to Blackstone’s statement.

Dive Insight:

TSLP has become a popular target for drugmakers looking for new ways to tackle inflammation. Amgen and AstraZeneca entered the market first, after winning Food and Drug Administration approval in late 2021 for the asthma treatment Tezspire, an injection designed to be administered every four weeks.

Two startups in recent years have caught the eye of investors with TSLP-targeted drugs they say have unique advantages. Upstream Bio launched in 2022, raised new funds in 2023 and this year announced the start of a Phase 2 clinical trial in severe asthma that’s testing dosing of the company’s drug at 12-week and 24-week intervals.

Meanwhile, Aiolos Bio launched last year with a $245 million Series A financing and the promise of a TSLP drug that only needs to be taken twice a year. GSK snapped up the company early this year with a $1 billion offer.

With its investment in Uniquity, Blackstone said it’s eying a global immunology and inflammation market that could grow to $257 billion in 2032. Asthma alone affects more than 260 million people, according to the World Health Organization.

Blackstone has made a wide range of life sciences investments in recent years, including a promise of as much as $750 million for Moderna to support the research and development of influenza vaccines. The private equity firm has also played a role in launching new companies including Anthos Therapeutics and AvenCell Therapeutics.