OrbiMed takes point on a new biotech launch, but almost everything remains secret for now
If you missed the news of a new company launch backed by blue-chip investor OrbiMed early Wednesday morning, that was by design.
Alterome Therapeutics quietly emerged from stealth with $64 million in its Series A, a fairly large sum for an initial biotech raise. One would think, given the industry’s penchant for bombast, such a raise would be accompanied by all the fanfare that comes with an OrbiMed backing and enough cash to buy hundreds upon hundreds of the most expensive Tesla model.
But Alterome put out only a terse and ambiguous press release, instead cultivating an aura of mystique. The choice to do so was intentional, said Arjun Goyal, managing director of Vida Ventures, which also backed the Series A.
“We did have a discussion, we kept it deliberately — I don’t want to say vague — but we want to be quiet about the targets we’re going after and the approaches we’re using,” Goyal told Endpoints News. “What I can say … is that it’s a very strong drug hunting team leveraging new insights in computational chemistry to go after intractable oncology targets.”
Most prominent among the not-vague wording is the phrase “alteration-specific,” used three times throughout the 297-word press release. Made in reference to the types of targeted cancer therapeutics Alterome is developing, the expression hasn’t been fully explained and likely won’t be for some time. Goyal declined to elaborate and Alterome does not have a website.
What Goyal could talk about dealt with areas of cancer research where Alterome wants to innovate. For now, those include certain solid tumor fields with “a lot of room for improvements in outcomes,” he said, ticking off colorectal cancer, NSCLC and gastric cancer as a few examples. The raise will give Alterome roughly three years of runway to develop its set of programs, at which point the biotech hopes to be near the clinic.
Goyal also expanded on how he believes Alterome’s team could prove a bigger differentiating factor than any kind of technology or platform. The company is led by Eric Murphy, formerly the CSO and founder of Kinnate Biopharma, and was also co-founded by Ryan Corcoran, director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s gastrointestinal cancer center.
That duo’s experience, Goyal says, gives Alterome a better chance to succeed than other biotech companies out there.
“Ultimately, the proof will be in the pudding,” he said. “It’s easy to start these companies, but it’s all about execution. We do believe, most importantly, that we have a team that has executed in the past and will execute going forward.”
In addition to OrbiMed and Vida, Wednesday’s raise also saw participation from Nextech Invest, Boxer Capital and others.