BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Scorpion Therapeutics, Inc., a next-generation precision oncology company, today announced the closing of a $108 million Series A financing, led by Atlas Venture, Omega Funds, and Vida Ventures, with participation from Abingworth and Partners HealthCare Innovation. The financing will be used to advance Precision Oncology 2.0., the next wave in precision medicine, with the goal of delivering best- and first-in-class small molecule drugs that are safe and well-tolerated and that can provide deeper, more durable responses to many more people with cancer. The company was founded by a team of world-renowned drug developers and researchers in cancer biology and targeted oncology, including Gary D. Glick, Ph.D., Keith Flaherty, M.D., Gaddy Getz, Ph.D., and Liron Bar-Peled, Ph.D.
Scorpion’s drug discovery and development engine builds on two decades of innovation in cancer genomics and integrates cutting-edge technologies across target discovery, medicinal chemistry, and translational medicine to deliver the next generation of precision oncology medicines. By developing medicines that are better able to spare healthy tissue and minimize side effects, the company aims to address cancers that are untreatable or treatment-resistant today so that precision oncology can become the norm – rather than the exception.
“Cancer is a complicated and devastating disease that continues to evade our best efforts to conquer it. Precision medicine represents a tremendous advance, with the potential to offer increased efficacy and decreased toxicity, but its promise remains unfulfilled for far too many patients,” said Dr. Glick, the company’s founding president and CEO. “At Scorpion, we have assembled a world-class team to push the limits of biology, bioinformatics, and medicinal chemistry to identify and drug the most promising therapeutic targets for cancer patients. Our deep capabilities in next-generation chemistry enable us to design precision therapeutics for both new targets and those previously dismissed as undruggable. Moreover, we have assembled leaders in clinical development, with the expertise to efficiently advance our product candidates to patients. With these tools, we are building an unparalleled pipeline of small-molecule drugs to address untapped vulnerabilities in cancer and provide fresh hope to people in need.”
Comprehensive tumor molecular profiling has uncovered thousands of recurrent genetic mutations now known to be important drivers of cancer. This has led to some notable therapeutic breakthroughs; however, the promise of precision oncology has not been fully exploited. First, many existing therapies have suboptimal therapeutic profiles, failing to provide maximum benefit to patients; second, many targets that are now known to be important for cancer proliferation and survival are still considered to be “undruggable” and therefore have yet to be targeted for therapy; and third, multi-omic data that may hold the key to transformative novel cancer targets has historically been too difficult to mine.
Scorpion has assembled the talent and technology to address these current limitations and developed a strategy to deliver on the full promise of precision oncology. Scorpion will focus initially on three key efforts: designing best or first-in-class drugs against known oncogenes; drugging known – but classically undruggable – cancer targets; and discovering and rapidly drugging novel targets with the potential to transform cancer treatment paradigms.
Scorpion’s lead investors noted that they were drawn to the company’s founding team, cutting-edge science, and bold vision of making precision oncology the norm rather than the exception.
“Scorpion’s delivery of Precision Oncology 2.0 is smart and systematic. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has assembled a renowned team, built a cutting edge discovery engine, and established a robust preclinical pipeline,” said Paulina Hill at Omega Funds.
“Their investments in data sciences and next-generation chemistry power a discovery engine that is purpose-built to find the best drugs for proven targets, as well as exploit novel ones. We look forward to supporting the Scorpion team in their mission to change the landscape of cancer treatment,” said Arjun Goyal, Co-founder and Managing Director at Vida Ventures.
“I am delighted to partner again with Gary, and like we did at IFM, help build another world-class biopharmaceutical company,” said Jean-François Formela, Partner at Atlas Venture.
Scorpion’s founders and scientific advisors are pioneers in the field of cancer genomics and in the development of targeted cancer therapies.
Dr. Glick is a biotech entrepreneur, academic chemist, and immunology researcher. He previously founded Lycera, FirstWave Bio, and IFM Therapeutics. During Dr. Glick’s tenure as CEO of IFM, the company progressed three programs from ideation to clinical development and executed several major transactions. In 2017, IFM sold two cancer assets to Bristol-Myers Squibb in a deal valued over $2.3 billion and, in 2019, IFM sold its NLRP3 inhibitor program to Novartis for $1.6 billion. Dr. Glick also led the structuring and negotiation of a collaboration and option agreement with Novartis valued at over $840 million to develop inhibitors of the cGAS/STING pathway to treat inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. He currently serves as Executive Chairman of IFM.
Dr. Flaherty is director of clinical research at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. A co-author of more than 300 papers, he led teams that made seminal discoveries about the genetics and treatment of melanoma. In 2013, Dr. Flaherty co-founded Loxo Oncology, where he served on the Board of Directors and chaired the Scientific Advisory board until its acquisition by Eli Lilly for $8 billion. He is also a co-founder of Strata Oncology, X4 Pharmaceuticals, and Apricity.
Dr. Getz is an internationally acclaimed and widely published leader in cancer genomics and directs the Cancer Genome Computational Analysis Group at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, among other affiliations. He directs bioinformatics research and holds an endowed chair at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. His lab focuses on characterizing cancer genetics and identifying key drivers of disease.
Dr. Bar-Peled is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Cancer Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. His lab has made key contributions to understanding how cells sense and respond to oxidative stress and developing small molecule inhibitors against difficult-to-drug cancer drivers.
An experienced scientific leadership team
Scorpion is led by an experienced group of drug hunters who have led the discovery, development, and commercialization of multiple oncology drugs. Joining Dr. Glick is Darrin Stuart, Ph.D. as chief scientific officer, Angel Guzman Perez, Ph.D. as head of discovery, and Erica Jackson as EVP of target biology.
Dr. Stuart previously served as executive director of cancer biology and drug discovery at Novartis, where he led or oversaw ten small-molecule oncology programs from ideation into first-in-human trials. Notably, Dr. Stuart was the project leader for the BRAFTOVI® (encorafenib) program, which is now approved to treat patients with BRAFV600mut melanoma and colorectal cancer. Dr. Stuart also led an active basic research lab, which published multiple high-impact manuscripts on MAPK pathway biology and therapeutics.
Dr. Guzman-Perez joins Scorpion from Amgen’s research organization, where he served as executive director, head of medicinal chemistry, and was responsible for the small-molecule portfolio across therapeutic areas. Previously, Dr. Guzman-Perez spent 14 years at Pfizer. He has co-authored more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, been a co-inventor on more than 20 patents, and contributed to the advancement of more than 20 compounds to preclinical development.
Dr. Jackson has spent the past 20 years leading teams and mentoring scientists in oncology target validation and large and small molecule drug discovery. Prior to joining Scorpion, Erica was Senior Director of Oncology Discovery at AbbVie, where she led a cross-site team responsible for all biology aspects of drug discovery from target ID through candidate nomination. Before AbbVie, she spent two years at ORIC Pharmaceuticals, helping to move ORIC-101, a glucocorticoid receptor inhibitor, into the clinic. Erica began her industry career at Genentech, where she spent 10 years across roles of increasing responsibility in oncology discovery.
About Scorpion Therapeutics
Scorpion Therapeutics was founded to broaden the reach and impact of precision medicine to more people with cancer. The company is integrating cutting-edge technologies across target discovery, medicinal chemistry, and translational medicine to deliver Precision Oncology 2.0. Scorpion’s experienced leadership team is executing a fit-to-purpose model to efficiently unlock the next generation of precision oncology. For more information, visit scorpiontx.com.