Twentyeight-Seven Therapeutics (28-7), a Cambridge, Mass.-based biotechnology company focused on modulating non-coding RNA (ncRNA) biology to develop treatments for cancer and other diseases, closed a $65m Series A financing.
The round was co-led by MPM Capital and Novartis Venture Fund with participation from Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc., Vertex Ventures HC, Longwood Fund, and Astellas Venture Management.
The company intends to use the funds to advance its 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.
Led by Kazumi Shiosaki, Ph.D., founding President and Chief Executive Officer, and newly added Shomir Ghosh, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, 28-7 is a biotechnology company focused on the modulation of non-coding RNA (ncRNA) function to treat cancer and other human diseases.
The company initially focuses on modulating miRNAs, which are short ncRNAs that inhibit target gene expression by suppressing mRNA translation and/or promoting mRNA decay. The 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. 28-7’s 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.
The company is developing first-in-class drugs that inhibit Lin28’s activity and thus raise levels of Let-7 for treatment of various cancers.
Its core technology comes from its four founding scientists:
– 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
In addition to Dr. Shiosaki, 28-7’s Board of Directors will include:
– 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