Sudo Scores $37M to Advance TYK2 Inhibitors Into Clinical Testing for AS

New medicines in development for immune-mediated inflammatory diseases

Margarida Maia PhD avatar

by Margarida Maia PhD |

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TYK2 inhibitors

Sudo Biosciences has secured $37 million in series A financing to back the development of TYK2 inhibitors as potential anti-inflammatory medicines for immune-mediated inflammatory conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis (AS).

The goal, the company said in a press release announcing the new funding, is to move the best candidates through to clinical testing.

“TYK2 inhibitors are quickly emerging as the next major class of anti-inflammatory therapeutics,” said Scott Byrd, Sudo’s CEO.

AS is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the joints of the spine — and sometimes other joints in the body — become inflamed. Such inflammation in the spine joints causes a patient’s back to become painful and stiff. When inflammation hits other joints (arthritis) or the sites where a tendon or ligament joins a bone (enthesitis), these areas may feel swollen and warm.

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These symptoms tend to develop gradually, and a patient may see them come and go in phases over several months or even years.

New treatments in development

While there is no cure for the disease, treatments are available to help ease its symptoms. There also are treatment candidates under study.

Some of these experimental treatments work by blocking the action of enzymes known as Janus kinases (JAKs).

These enzymes sit near the inner side of a cell’s border (the membrane), where they pass on chemical signals from the outside of the cell to its operating center (the nucleus). As such, they have important roles in the process of inflammation that occurs in many diseases. By blocking their action, the symptoms of these diseases may be eased.

One such enzyme is TYK2 — short for tyrosine kinase 2. TYK2 passes on chemical signals sent by certain cytokines, which are small proteins that help mount the body’s immune responses.

Blocking TYK2 has been shown to be effective for the treatment of psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and lupus, which are immune-mediated inflammatory diseases. Evidence suggests they also may benefit patients with other diseases, including AS.

JAKs are comprised of four units (domains) linked to each other. Most inhibitors target one of these domains, called JH1. However, the JH1 domain looks very much alike across different JAKs. This means that these inhibitors may cross-react with more than one enzyme, which may cause unwanted side effects.

Instead, the TYK2 inhibitors in Sudo’s pipeline are designed to target another domain, called JH2 or pseudokinase. This makes TYK2 inhibitors more selective and less likely to cause side effects, according to the company.

“In a short period of time, we have developed four distinct TYK2 pseudokinase programs in our pipeline, which are all uniquely positioned to be a best-in-class category leader,” Byrd said.

The series A financing was led by Frazier Life Sciences, which helped found Sudo in 2020, and Velosity Capital.

“Our team has made significant progress in the past two years, with strategic and financial support from Frazier and Velosity,” said Byrd.

Dan Estes, general partner at Frazier, said its advisers “look forward to working with the Sudo team to advance precision TYK2 therapeutics for patients with autoimmune disorders.”