Mysterious OrbiMed-backed biotech nears $100M in funding, hints at plans to go after ‘undruggable 3.0’
In January, Alterome launched from stealth — but remained quite stealthy. While the biotech put out a press release for its $64 million Series A, led by OrbiMed, it launched without a website and didn’t elaborate on its science beyond “alteration-specific targeted therapies for the treatment of cancer.”
But with an additional $35 million — bringing its total Series A to $99 million — Alterome appears more willing to share. For one, it now has a website, although the page doesn’t offer more than the bare-bones details on the science.
Alterome CEO and CSO Eric Murphy told Endpoints News that the Series A extension arose from a third program that Alterome wanted to pursue. Alterome’s focus is going after so-called undruggable cancer driver mutations, but Murphy said Alterome wasn’t disclosing timelines or targets at the time.
Without giving any specifics on what exactly these programs were, Murphy described the two existing programs as best-in-class, but said the new one was first-in-class too, noting that they weren’t aware of anyone else who was doing the same thing.
Murphy said the third, new program goes after “a very validated oncogenic driver” through an interesting angle. “You hit it, and you will likely have a monotherapy path in the indications we’re planning,” he said.
But in its initial Series A, Alterome had raised money only for its first two programs.
During Alterome’s Q2 board meeting, investors encouraged the San Diego-based biotech to try and raise more money for the new program. “Instead of going through this situation, even at a down market, of ‘pick your favorite child,’” as Alterome COO Scott Moorefield put it, the biotech found Colt Ventures to co-lead an extension round alongside OrbiMed, followed by its other existing investors Nextech Invest, Vida Ventures, and Boxer Capital.
Murphy, who co-founded Kinnate Biopharma and was its CSO until last year, said he hatched the plan for Alterome alongside Massachusetts General’s Gastrointestinal Cancer Center director Ryan Corcoran, who he met when Corcoran joined Kinnate as a scientific advisor. “We had many like-minded philosophies for making the next generation of targeted therapies,” Murphy said. And Alterome’s initial investors all previously invested in Kinnate as well.
While Kinnate was born out of “undruggable 2.0,” Murphy said, Alterome plans to go after “undruggable 3.0” — the next series of cancer driver mutations that has yet to be targeted successfully. He said the idea was akin to his work at Kinnate on BRAF Class II and III mutations.
At the center of Alterome’s work is a computational chemistry platform which Murphy described as “structure-guided but then co-crystal enabled.”
“Now I don’t really use the word undruggable anymore in this day and age. It’s just that it will take time to drug these targets,” he said.