SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Frontier Medicines today announced the closing of a Series A Preferred Stock financing round of $67 million led by Deerfield Management, Droia Oncology Ventures and MPM Capital, with participation from DCVC Bio (an affiliated fund of DCVC), RA Capital Management and other investors. Frontier Medicines is a new pre-clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing breakthrough medicines to redefine the course of debilitating diseases, starting with cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 1,762,000 new cancer cases and approximately 607,000 deaths from cancer are expected to occur in the US in 2019. However, even after decades of research, the majority of known cancer-causing proteins are still considered “undruggable,” or inaccessible for therapeutic intervention. This reality has become one of the most critical challenges in advancing oncology therapy and is central to the research at Frontier Medicines.
“Our therapeutic programs are focused on several of the most important and difficult targets in cancer,” said Chris Varma, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Frontier Medicines. “With our platform, we have the ability to address previously inaccessible disease-causing proteins. While we are taking on a considerable challenge, we believe this approach will have a tremendous impact on transforming patients’ lives for the better, which is our ultimate goal.”
Frontier Medicines is using chemoproteomics – an innovative approach to chemically interrogate proteins in living systems – to discover and pharmacologically target new binding pockets (or “hotspots”) on proteins, making them accessible to small-molecule drug discovery and development. The company’s proprietary chemoproteomics platform also integrates advanced computational approaches and machine learning to further accelerate the path to drug discovery.
“Our platform currently includes a database of hotspots that cover a majority of human proteins, including those that were previously considered ‘undruggable;’ an expanding library of diverse, covalent compounds being driven by machine learning; and a novel approach to protein degradation,” said Daniel K. Nomura, Ph.D., co-founder of Frontier Medicines. “This platform enables us to go after almost any protein target of interest for therapeutic intervention.”
Frontier Medicines is founded by a team of experts in chemoproteomics, cancer biology and company building:
- Chris Varma, Ph.D., Co-founder, CEO and President. Dr. Varma is a serial entrepreneur, including co-founder & former CEO of Blueprint Medicines (Nasdaq: BPMC); and VC veteran, having worked with MPM Capital, Third Rock Ventures and Flagship Ventures to build and invest in several successful companies.
- Daniel K. Nomura, Ph.D., Co-founder; Associate Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, Chemistry, Nutritional Science and Toxicology, UC Berkeley. For more than eight years, the Nomura Research Group has focused on reimagining druggability using chemoproteomic platforms to develop new disease therapies.
- Roberto Zoncu, Ph.D., Co-founder; Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, UC Berkeley. Zoncu’s research focuses on fundamental mechanisms of growth regulation in both normal and cancer states. His work has been recognized by numerous awards, including the NIH Director New Innovator Award, the Pew Stewart Scholarship for Cancer Research, the Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr. Foundation Scholarship and the Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award.
Frontier Medicines’ investors include leading crossover, venture, life sciences and technology funds, positioning Frontier Medicines well for the future. The Series A financing, building on a founding investment by MPM Capital, will enable Frontier Medicines to invest in research and development, talent acquisition and advancement of its platform and therapeutic programs.