Startups, Venture

Betting on allosteric mutations driving cancer, Black Diamond raises $85M in fresh round

Nearly a month after emerging from “stealth mode,” David Epstein-led cancer upstart Black Diamond Therapeutics said it has raised $85 million in a Series B round, bringing the funds raised by the first company out of Versant’s Ridgeline discovery engine in Basel to $105 million.

David Epstein

Oncogenes — which have the potential to cause the growth of cancer cells — are activated by kinase domain mutations or by allosteric mutations. Allostery is a common process by which proteins transmit the effect of binding at one site to another, often distal, functional site, allowing for regulation of activity.

While inhibitors used to suppress kinase domain mutations are considered standard-of-care treatment for many types of cancer, allosteric mutations are still uncharted territory. Using their tech platform, Black Diamond is looking to map allosteric mutations driving cancer to develop inhibitors that are tumor agnostic.

Elizabeth Buck

As increasing genomic profiling of cancer patients identifies clusters of uncharacterized genomic alterations, the biotech’s technology is designed to isolate “druggable mutation baskets” to create precision medicines. The company currently has two programs: allosteric HER2 and EGFR driver mutations that occur across a range of tissue type tumors, and other undisclosed programs brewing in its pipeline.

Black Diamond’s Epstein and fellow co-founder Elizabeth Buck — who were involved in the development of cancer drug Tarceva — received $20 million in Series A financing exclusively from founding investor Versant Ventures. The fresh B round of funding, announced on Wednesday, was co-led by New Enterprise Associates and RA Capital Management. The money will be used to develop Black Diamond’s pipeline and help establish its new corporate headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

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