Third Rock-backed Cedilla reels in $57.6M for small molecule programs to fight cancer
Cedilla Therapeutics launched just over two years ago with a $56 million Series A and a plan to chart new territory in the protein degradation space. Now, CEO Sandra Glucksmann is following up with a $57.6 million Series B round to steer the Cambridge, MA-based biotech in a slightly different direction.
The company is currently focused on finding new small molecule binding sites — which may affect protein degradation, inhibition or both — to drug the undruggable.
“The science takes you to places, and we broadened that umbrella,” Glucksmann told Endpoints News, adding later: “You’ve got to go where the science goes, right?”
The Series B — led by Casdin Capital and Boxer Capital of Tavistock Group — will fund early development of the biotech’s small molecule programs, including preclinical work on its first two product candidates, which Cedilla is keeping under wraps for now. Glucksmann said the company has about 5 or 6 oncology programs running in parallel, which are still years away from the clinic.
“One of our targets is something that people have been trying to drug for over 20 years,” she hinted.
Back in 2018, Cedilla was aiming to upstream a common approach to protein degradation by using small molecule drugs to destabilize disease-causing proteins. The protein degradation field has seen plenty of cash flow this year, with newcomer Janpix raking in a $19 million launch round earlier this month, days after C4, one of the pioneers, landed its IPO.
Cedilla’s focus today is still on small molecules, but for inhibition. “By understanding the novel target biology, how the proteins are modified, how they take on different states, we are able to reveal new small molecule binding pockets, or binding sites,” Glucksmann said. “The binding of that small molecule may affect degradation and/or inhibition,” she added later.
In addition to the Series B, Cedilla is bringing Casdin CIO and founder Eli Casdin and Boxer senior VP Dominik Naczynski onto its board of directors. Since launching in 2018, the biotech has grown from a handful of employees to 35 staffers.
“It takes a village to develop drugs,” Glucksmann said. “And it’s great to have sophisticated and experienced investors to be part of the team.”
Glucksmann was recruited by Third Rock as an entrepreneur-in-residence in 2017, with the intention that she would launch Cedilla. The team took six months to nail down a business and research plan, then unveiled the company in 2018.
“For me what was exciting was to take well-validated oncology targets — where we understand the biology [and] we understand the role that they play in human disease — and then a tool, which is small molecules that we know how to develop, and combining those two … to do something novel with a team that is experienced,” she said.
Third Rock chipped in again to the Series B, as well as new investors Eli Lilly and Schroder Adveq.