A startup developing a platform technology for drugs that degrade proteins that cause disease has raised a financing round of nearly $100 million.
Boston-based Monte Rosa said Thursday that it had raised a Series B round of $96 million. Aisling Capital led the round, while founding investor Versant Ventures participated, along with New Enterprise Associates. New investors included HBM Healthcare Investments, Cormorant Asset Management, GV, Amzak Health, Casdin Capital, Sixty Degree Capital and Cambridge Asset Management.
“We are pleased to have the support of this strong group of investors who share our vision for driving a next-generation drug discovery approach that captures the promise of expanding the field of protein degradation into a broader array of diseases,” Monte Rosa CEO Markus Warmuth said in a statement. “With this financing, we are now well-positioned to broadly develop our integrated drug discovery platform and advance multiple new therapies toward clinical development.”
The company said it plans to use the money to accelerate its pipeline growth and advance development candidates into the clinic. The drugs would be small molecules designed to degrade proteins by “hijacking” the body’s innate ability to do so. The company hopes to eradicate proteins heretofore considered undruggable that drive progression of diseases that are intractable to current standards of care, including cancers.
Monte Rosa previously raised a Series A funding round in May of this year, worth $32.5 million. Versant Ventures led the round and launched Monte Rosa from its Ridgeline discovery engine based in Basel, Switzerland, along with New Enterprise Associates.
“Undruggable” targets have become increasingly prominent in recent years as numerous companies have sought to develop medicines that reach molecular targets that, for a variety of reasons, have historically evaded inhibition by small molecules, though Monte Rosa’s website distinguishes its protein degradation approach from inhibition. A prominent example of a previously “undruggable” target is KRAS, especially KRAS G12C, which is the target of several small molecule inhibitors like Amgen’s sotorasib.
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