Versant-backed precision oncology startup Repare Therapeutics scores $82M+ in latest round
More than two years after emerging out of stealth mode with $68 million and Versant as a founding investor, precision oncology drug developer Repare Therapeutics has scored another $82.5 million to take its lead product — carved out of the biotech’s synthetic lethality platform — into the clinic.
Synthetic lethality is a concept that relies on the idea that while tumors can tolerate individual defects in DNA, combinations of defects create distinct vulnerabilities in cancer cells which, when isolated, present opportunities for precision therapeutics. For instance, PARP inhibitors — such as Clovis’ Rubraca, AstraZeneca’s $AZN Lynparza and GSK’s $GSK Zejula — were developed to treat cancers with mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
“This is a field we know and our conviction is that PARP is the tip of the iceberg,” Versant managing director Jerel Davis told Endpoints News in 2017.
Repare has harnessed CRISPR gene editing technology as an interrogation tool to identify new targets for small molecule drug discovery. Its lead drug is engineered to inhibit ataxia telangiectasia and rad3-related (ATR) kinase — which is found on a variety of cancer cell types and plays a key role in DNA repair, cell cycle progression, and survival. With this fresh round of funding, the drug — RP-3500 — is set to enter the clinic next year.
The company — which earlier this year found an Asian partner for its inhibitor of Polθ, a DNA polymerase essential to repairing DNA breaks — will also use the capital injection to advance its ‘Manchester’ program, a targeted therapy targeting the CCNE1 gene, in the coming quarters.
The latest round of financing was led by Cowen Healthcare Investments, and included the participation of new investors such as OrbiMed, Redmile, BVF Partners and Logos Capital, as well as existing investors: Versant Ventures, MPM Capital, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, and BDC Capital.