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Pronutria, Eyeing Clinical Push, Gets $42.5M From Nestle Health

Xconomy Boston — 

Pronutria Biosciences has grabbed another large funding round, announcing today a $42.5 million investment from Nestlé Health Science that the company hopes will get its first drug candidates all the way into late-stage clinical trials.

It’s the second significant investment in less than a year. Last May, Pronutria raised a $39 million Series C round led by Fidelity Management & Research, which was joined by the company’s founding backer, Flagship Ventures, and other unnamed investors. With the latest round, Cambridge, MA-based Pronutria has now raised more than $107 million since Flagship formed the company in 2011.

The company has been building a library of the DNA sequences of various amino acids—the building blocks of proteins—in the hope of developing drugs for diseases triggered by amino acid imbalances. The company has said it aims to to target muscle, neurological, and liver diseases. It hasn’t identified any specific disorders to target as of yet, but noted in a statement on Tuesday that it has enough cash to get to late stage trials for “several disease indications.” A separate statement from Nestle identified a lead drug candidate called PN-107 for muscle wasting conditions.

Pronutria started out aiming to develop medical foods, therapeutics, and nutritional supplements. Last year, however, it added “Biosciences” to its name to reflect the fact that it had become a drugmaker first and foremost.

Greg Behar, CEO of Nestlé Health Science, is joining Pronutria’s board of directors. Nestlé, which is headquartered in Epalinges, Switzerland, is gaining a “significant” stake in Pronutria, according to this report from the Wall Street Journal. Nestle also recently invested in another Flagship startup from Cambridge, Seres Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MCRB), last year, and inked a wide-ranging alliance with the company in January.