Scripps Florida company spins off, raises more than $55M

A Scripps Florida spinoff company announced today that in has raised $55.3 million in Series A financing to develop small molecule medicines to treat rare diseases.

Expansion Therapeutics will be based in San Diego and Jupiter. It closed the financing with a group of private equity firms led by 5AM Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Novartis Venture Fund and Sanofi Ventures.

Expansion is the largest spinoff company formed so far since Gov. Jeb Bushrecruited The Scripps Research Institute to the state back in 2004, according to Scripps.

The spinoff company said the proceeds of the financing will go toward advancing its portfolio of small molecule drugs targeting expansion repeat disorders, including myotonic dystrophy type I (DM1), which is the leading cause of adult onset muscular dystrophy.

Myotonic dystrophy type I (DM1) affects 40,000 individuals in the U.S. alone, and is the most frequent cause of adult onset muscular dystrophy, according to Scripps.

The proprietary technology for Expansion was developed from the lab of Matthew Disney, Ph.D. of The Scripps Research Institute Florida.

“In a short period of time Expansion has assembled a leading team, the key scientific founder in Matt Disney of The Scripps Research Institute Florida, and a capital efficient plan to advance the emerging field of RNA targeted small molecule medicines,” said Scott M. Rocklage, Ph.D., managing partner of 5AM Ventures and founding investor and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Expansion Therapeutics.

Expansion named co-founder Kevin M. Forrest, as its president and chief executive officer. Forrest previously served as founding chief operating officer and chief financial officer for the San Diego-based anti-infectives company Cidara Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CDTX). Prior to Cidara, he was a Principal at 5AM Ventures.

The Scripps Research Institute (TRSI) was founded in San Diego and launched a Florida campus in 2003, with startup costs supported by a one-time $310 million grant by the state legislature.

The research outpost has since earned tens of millions of dollars in grants for research initiatives, becoming an anchor of a growing biotech community in northern Palm Beach County. TSRI scientists have more than 1,000 patents and seven FDA-approved drugs to their credit.