Dracen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Baltimore, Maryland, United States-based private company developing proprietary anti-cancer drugs discovered at the Johns Hopkins University and the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences (IOCB Prague), raised $40m in Series A funding.
The round was led by Deerfield Management, which committed $36m.
The company intends to use the funds to advance its novel immuno-metabolism pipeline into clinical trials for patients suffering from cancer.
Founded by Johns Hopkins University professors Barbara Slusher, MAS/PhD; Jonathan Powell, MD/PhD; and Rana Rais, PhD; together with their IOCB Prague collaborator Pavel Majer, PhD., and led by Thomas M. Estok, Chief Executive Officer, Dracen will develop its platform of novel glutamine antagonists by building upon the immuno-metabolism effects demonstrated in preclinical cancer models.
Immuno-metabolism is the convergence of cancer metabolism and immuno-oncology whereby agents disrupt the energy sources required to keep tumors alive while simultaneously inducing the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. The company intends to develop its glutamine antagonists both in single-agent settings as well as in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors such as anti-PD-1 and anti-PD-L1.