Avalon Ventures, a venture capital firm with offices in San Diego and Boston, has announced the launch of the first biotech startup in its collaboration agreement with GlaxoSmithKline. The GSK deal, worth up to $495 million, was announced in April and will fund up to 10 drug-discovery startups over the next three years.
Sitari Pharmaceuticals raised a $10M Series A round for the development of treatments for Celiac disease, an autoimmune digestive disease caused by gluten intolerance. In patients with Celiac, gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, damages the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients in food.
Sitari was founded on intellectual property developed by the laboratory of Chaitan Khosla, the director of the Stanford Institute for Chemical biology and a co-founder of the company.
Avalon also announced the formation of COI Pharmaceuticals, or Community of Innovation, a group of industry mentors created to support the companies launched in the collaboration with GSK. The COI team is made up of 25 scientists and biotech leaders, and is available to Sitari, as well as other Avalon portfolio companies, including Afraxis, Avelas Biosciences, RQx Pharmaceuticals and Sova Pharmaceuticals.