Surface Oncology, a Cambridge, Mass.-based company developing cancer immunotherapies, closed a $35m Series A funding round.
Backers included The Atlas Venture, which initially seeded the company in 2014, Fidelity Biosciences, Lilly Ventures, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Amgen Ventures, Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research (NIBR), and Elliott Sigal, MD, former head of R&D at Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), who will also join the scientific advisory board (SAB) od Surface. Also joining the Board of Directors are Robert Garland, MD, Partner at NEA, Armen Shanafelt, PhD, General Partner at Lilly Ventures, and Robert Weisskoff, PhD, Partner at Fidelity Biosciences.
The company will use the funds to advance a number of programs toward clinical development.
Led by David Grayzel, MD, Chairman and acting Chief Executive Officer (and partner at Atlas Venture), Surface Oncology is initially focusing on programs outside of checkpoint inhibition that are known to play a role in enabling cancer cells to escape detection and eradication by the immune system. The company has active pre-clinical programs in several of these areas, including therapies designed to improve the effectiveness of antigen presentation; to block the activity of suppressor cells in the tumor microenvironment; or to counter the impact of specific inhibitory cytokines and metabolites.
It anticipates identifying lead candidates for clinical development in 2015.
Surface’s founders and Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) members include:
Sasha Rudensky, PhD, Professor and Chair of Immunology, Memorial Sloan Kettering and Director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy,
Arlene Sharpe, MD, PhD, Professor, Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute,
Christopher Hunter, PhD, Professor, University of Pennsylvania,
Carla Rothlin, PhD, Associate Professor, Yale University,
Elliott Sigal, MD, former head of R&D for BMS,
John Stagg, PhD, Professor, Cancer Institute of Montreal, and
John Wherry, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania.