Days before Christmas, three new companies decided to strip away the wrapping paper and unveil themselves to the world. Each of the companies launched with millions of dollars raised through a Series A financing round.
San Diego-based Erasca launched with $42 million that will be used to support its bold mission of attempting to develop what it calls a next generation of oncology drugs that are designed to cure the disease, rather than treat it. Co-founder and Chairman Jonathan E. Lim said he knows many people who have been diagnosed with a form of cancer and are in “need of healing beyond what can be provided by available treatments.”
“Erasca was borne out of a mission to address this significant patient need and, one day, erase cancer. We recognize that this is an ambitious goal, as cancer is a formidable foe. But no mission worth taking is ever easy,” Lim said in a statement.
The new company has several discovery programs underway for undisclosed targets that are biological drivers of cancer. Erasca said it will disclose more information about the programs as it moves into clinical trials. Prior to launching Erasca, Lim helmed Ignyta, which was acquired by Roche in February 2018 for $1.7 billion. In addition to Ignyta, Lim has also helmed several other companies, including Bonti, which was acquired by Allergan, Eclipse Therapeutics, which was acquired by Bionomics, and Halozyme Therapeutics.
Erasca’s Series A was led by City Hill Ventures and Cormorant Asset Management. The fledgling company said it is also interested in opportunities for pipeline expansion through academic and biopharmaceutical collaborations.
Another company that announced its launch this morning is Boston-based Entrada Therapeutics. The company secured $59 million in Series A financing. Entrada will use the funds to advance its intracellular delivery platform focused on treating a fatal mitochondrial disease with no approved treatments that is caused by mutations in a gene that codes for an intracellular enzyme. The Series A will allow the company the financing to advance the program into human trials. Additionally, Entrada said it will use the funds to broaden its “rare, monogenic disease pipeline by identifying and progressing additional intracellular enzyme replacement therapies.”
Entrada Chief Executive Officer Dipal Doshi said the company has an opportunity to “create the next generation of therapeutics for previously undruggable intracellular targets.”
According to the Entrada’s announcement, its delivery vehicles “boast improved bioavailability, biodistribution, metabolic stability and enhanced efficiency” in comparison to previous gold standards of treatment. Entrada will apply its platform to the delivery of intracellular enzyme replacement therapies, protein-protein interaction inhibitors and nucleic acids, the company said.
Prior to helming Entrada, Doshi most recently served as chief business officer for Amicus Therapeutics. Prior to that, Doshi held numerous roles at Auven Therapeutics, Catalent Pharma Solutions, Merrill Lynch and Eli Lilly.
Entrada’s Series A financing round was co-led by 5AM Ventures and MPM Capital, along with Roche Venture Fund, MRL Ventures Fund (MRLV) and Agent Capital.
Also launching today is San Francisco-based Spiral Therapeutics. The company secured $3.7 million in Series A financing to support the Phase I trial of its lead candidate LPT99, which targets prevention and treatment of hearing loss. Since Spiral was initially founded in 2016, the company has raised more than $8.3 million. The Series A was co-led by Savoir Capital and Camden Partners. Spiral said it intends to secure additional funding as part of this financing round.
Spiral said it intends to initiate the Phase I trial in Australia with 32 healthy patients. The study is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2019. Hugo Peris, the founder and CEO of Spiral, said the trial confirms the company’s development capabilities, as well as its understanding of inner ear disorders.
“We will continue to leverage our core competencies in advancing the development of LPT99 and expanding our pipeline,” Peris said.
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