Backed by Celgene and Novartis AG, IDEAYA Biosciences Raises $46 Million and Recruits an Arsenal Full of Industry Vets

Backed by Celgene and Novartis AG, IDEAYA Biosciences Raises $46 Million, Recruits an Arsenal of Industry Vets May 3, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, -- With support from Celgene and Novartis , startup Ideaya Biosciences, Inc., netted $46 million in Series A financing to support the development of its immuno-oncology therapies.

California-based Ideaya, which emerged from its role as a 5AM ventures incubated company, is developing small molecule programs with a focus on personalized synthetic lethality medicines targeting DNA damage and repair and immuno-oncology therapies targeting the tumor microenvironment. Not only was the company successful in securing the funding, the company also formed a scientific advisory board that includes a Nobel laureate and three members of the National Academy of Sciences.

The funding will be used to fuel Ideaya’s research programs and advance its experimental therapeutics to clinical trial stages, Yujiro Hata, chief executive officer of Ideaya said in a statement.

Ideaya said it will be able to advance its programs in synthetic lethality and immuno-oncology due to the approval of a PARP-inhibitor, olaparib, in BRCA deficient ovarian cancer. On its website, Ideaya says synthetic lethality has resulted in superior response rates and significant progression free survival in patients with BRCA deficient ovarian cancer. The company’s drug discovery programs are expected to target pathways known to produce an immune-suppressed tumor microenvironment, which enables tumors to escape recognition by the body’s own immune system. The company said it will focus on “novel synthetic lethal interactions for genetically defined patient populations, exploiting inherent tumor susceptibilities en-route to discovery and development of small-molecule agents to treat major human cancers.”

Additionally, Ideaya said it will “exploit the potential of modulating DNA repair to augment response to immunotherapy.”

Ideaya’s fundraising was supported by 5AM Ventures, Canaan Partners, Celgene, WuXi Healthcare Ventures, Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research and Alexandria Real Estate.

The company launches with a strong leadership team with former leaders at Flexus (Bristol-Myers Squibb), FLX Bio, Seragon (Genentech), Onyx (Amgen), Aragon (JnJ), Novartis and Roche . In addition to Hata, the company is led by Jeffrey Hagar, vice president and head of biology, and Michael Dillon, senior vice president and head of drug discovery. The company’s board of directors include Canaan’s Tim Shannon and Robert Hershberg, chief science officer at Celgene . Ideaya’s board observers include Edward Hu, a founding partner at WuXi; John Diekman, chairman of 5AM; Terry Rosen, CEO of Arcus Biosciences; Jeff Stein, CEO of Cidara Therapeutics and Hannah Chang, an associate at 5AM.

Perhaps more impressive, Ideaya’s science advisory board includes noted figures in the fields of DNA damage and repair and immunology, including Alan D'Andrea; John Petrini; Trey Ideker; Stephen Kowalczykowski; Elizabeth Swisher; Nobel Laureate Bruce Beutler; Christopher Goodnow; Richard Ulevitch; Paul Reider; and Laura Shawver.

"We are delighted by the experienced Series A syndicate that includes both venture capital and strategic investors deeply committed to bringing new oncology therapies to patients," Diekman, Ideaya’s board chairman, said in a statement.

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