CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Twentyeight-Seven Therapeutics (28-7), a biotechnology company focused on modulating non-coding RNA (ncRNA) biology to develop treatments for cancer and other diseases, today announced the successful completion of its $65 million Series A financing. Founding investor MPM Capital and Novartis Venture Fund co-led the financing. They were joined by additional investors including Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc., Vertex Ventures HC, Longwood Fund, and Astellas Venture Management. The funding will be used to advance 28-7’s lead program, aimed at the discovery and development of small molecules that increase the levels of the tumor suppressor microRNA (miRNA), Let-7, into serious cancer indications.
“This strong financing round was achieved thanks to the new biological understanding and impressive scientific data around non-coding RNA produced by our four scientific founders and the progress the 28-7 team has made since it was founded two years ago,” said Kazumi Shiosaki, Ph.D., founding President and Chief Executive Officer, 28-7. “Our experienced investors realize the promise in this new field of therapeutics and in the robust leads produced by our founders, who have made many of the seminal discoveries in this field, and by the exceptional scientists within the company.”
In addition, 28-7 announced that Shomir Ghosh, Ph.D., has joined as its Chief Scientific Officer. Most recently CSO and a founding scientist at IFM Therapeutics, Dr. Ghosh has 25 years of scientific research, drug discovery and development experience in biotech and large pharma, and has successfully delivered multiple compounds into preclinical and clinical development in the immunology, oncology and CNS therapeutic areas.
“I am incredibly excited to join 28-7 and support the advancement of its lead program,” said Dr. Ghosh. “I look forward to working with Kazumi and our accomplished team and Board as we discover new ways to fight cancer and grow our operations.”
28-7’s initial focus is on modulating miRNAs, which are short ncRNAs that inhibit target gene expression by suppressing mRNA translation and/or promoting mRNA decay. It is now well recognized that miRNAs are directly involved in cancer initiation, progression, and metastasis. 28-7’s technology does not focus on directly targeting the RNA itself or on developing oligonucleotides, but rather targets RNA modulating proteins (RMPs), enabling the use of small molecule drug candidates with broader access to cells and tissues. Let-7 is an miRNA that suppresses the translation of oncogenes in cells, and low levels of this miRNA are correlated with greater cancer aggressiveness. The company’s leading protein target is Lin28, an RMP that reduces the levels of Let-7, and has been shown to be an oncogene, promoting cellular transformation and tumorigenesis. 28-7 is developing first-in-class drugs that inhibit Lin28’s activity and thus raise levels of Let-7 for treatment of various cancers.
The company’s core technology comes from its four founding scientists, all leading researchers in RNA biology and cancer:
- George Daley, M.D., Ph.D. ─ Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Professor of Medicine, Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School
- Richard Gregory, Ph.D. ─ Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, and Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
- Frank Slack, Ph.D. ─ Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, Professor of Pathology and Director of Institute of RNA Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
- Piotr Sliz, Ph.D. ─ Associate Professor of Pediatrics and of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School
This founding group has been collaborating for years and has made substantial contributions to the science of ncRNA biology, including elucidating the role of ncRNAs in disease and identifying new RMP targets for drug discovery programs.
“Our founders have made important scientific contributions to the field of ncRNA biology, including the discovery of the Lin28/Let-7 pathway and its role in normal development, metabolism, and malignancy. Overall, our studies have established Lin28/Let-7 as a major regulatory pathway in stem cells and cancer,” said George Daley, M.D., Ph.D., 28-7’s co-founder and Chairman of the company’s Scientific Advisory Board, and Dean and Professor of Medicine and Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School. “We felt that the time was right to move these insights from the laboratory to pharmaceutical development, and we are very pleased by the progress the company achieved in the first two years of its existence. With this impressive round of funding and our continued support, 28-7 will unlock the therapeutic potential of our work.”
In addition to Dr. Shiosaki, several investors will join 28-7’s Board of Directors, including:
- Luke Evnin, Ph.D. ─ Managing Director and co-founder, MPM Capital
- Briggs Morrison, M.D. ─ Executive Partner, MPM Capital and CEO of Syndax Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
- Carolyn Ng, Ph.D. ─ Principal, Vertex Ventures HC
- Michal Silverberg, M.B.A. ─ Managing Director, Novartis Venture Fund
About MPM Capital
MPM Capital is a healthcare investment firm founding and investing in life sciences companies that seek to cure major diseases by translating scientific innovations into positive clinical outcomes. MPM invests in breakthrough therapeutics, with a focus on oncology. With its experienced and dedicated team of investment professionals, executive partners, entrepreneurs and scientific advisory board members, MPM is powering novel medical breakthroughs that transform patients’ lives. The firm’s innovative approach to investing includes a crossover strategy (both public and private equities), where a portion of profits and royalties are donated to cancer care and research. The firm also has an investment collaboration with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. For further information, please visit www.mpmcapital.com.
About Novartis Venture Fund
Novartis Venture Fund is a financially driven independent corporate life science venture fund whose purpose is to foster innovation, drive significant patient benefit and generate superior returns by creating and investing in innovative life science companies at various stages of their development. For more information, go to www.nvfund.com.
About Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc.
Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC Inc. (JJDC) is the strategic venture capital arm of Johnson & Johnson and a long-term investment partner to global healthcare entrepreneurs. Founded in 1973, JJDC continues a legacy of customizing deals for data-driven companies across the continuum of healthcare, with the goal of turning great ideas into transformative new pharmaceutical, medical device and consumer healthcare products. Visit our website at www.jjdc.com.
About Vertex Ventures HC
Vertex Ventures HC is a global life sciences focused venture capital fund investing in disruptive biopharmaceuticals, therapeutic medical devices and digital health companies of various stages. Vertex Ventures HC seeks to build great companies that improve the health and quality of human life, with a focus on areas with significant unmet needs. With investments to date including Twelve, Visterra, Obsidian Therapeutics, Palleon Pharma, and others, Vertex Ventures HC enjoys a close relationship with the industry’s top decision makers, talent, and influencers in both established and emerging markets. For more information on Vertex Ventures HC, go to http://vertexventureshc.com.
About Longwood Fund
Longwood Fund is a venture capital firm dedicated to creating and investing in novel healthcare companies that develop important treatments to help patients while targeting significant value for investors. The Longwood team has a long-term history of successfully launching and building important healthcare companies while providing operational leadership and strategic guidance. For more information, visit www.longwoodfund.com.
About Astellas Venture Management
Astellas Venture Management (“AVM”), based in Menlo Park, California, is a corporate venture capital of Astellas Pharma Inc. (“API”), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. For nearly two decades, AVM has been making strategic investments to achieve its mission to explore emerging innovative companies, which have potential to become API’s collaboration partners in R&D. For more information, please visit the website at www.astellasventure.com.
About Twentyeight-Seven Therapeutics
Twentyeight-Seven Therapeutics is a biotechnology company focused on the modulation of non-coding RNA (ncRNA) function to treat cancer and other human diseases. Targeting ncRNA modulating proteins (RMPs), the company can use small molecules to modulate expression levels of oncogenes and other proteins of significance. The company’s core technology comes from its four founding scientists, all leading researchers in RNA biology and cancer. www.twentyeight-seven.com