Frontier Medicines Closes $67 Million Series A, Will Focus on Chemoproteomics
Frontier Medicines closed on a Series A financing round worth $67 million. The round was led by Deerfield Management, DROIA Oncology Ventures and MPM Capital, with participation from DCVC Bio, RA Capital Management and other investors.
The company will focus on chemoproteomics, which it calls a way of interrogating proteins in living systems. This allows them to identify potential new binding targets on proteins, which will allow the development of small-molecule drugs. The company’s technology platform integrates advanced computation and machine learning.
“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,” stated Daniel K. Nomura, co-founder of Frontier. “This platform enables us to go after almost any protein target of interest for therapeutic intervention.”
The company was founded by Nomura, an associate professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, Chemistry, Nutritional Science and Toxicology at UC Berkeley and Chris Varma, who will act as chief executive officer and president. Varma is a well-known entrepreneur who co-founded and was the former chief executive officer of Blueprint Medicines. And finally, the third co-founder is Roberto Zoncu, assistant professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley.
“Our therapeutic programs are focused on several of the most important and difficult targets in cancer,” stated Varma. “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.”
The company’s board of directors will include Varma, who is joined by Luke Evnin of MPM Capital, Othman Laraki, an independent board member, Janwillem Naesens of DROIA Oncology Ventures, and Cameron Wheeler of Deerfield Management.
Johannes Hermann is Frontier’s chief technology officer. He was previously the global Head for Data Science at Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Technology. Before that, he was the head of the Machine Learning and Advanced Analytics department at Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a J&J company.
Jim Winkler is Head of Degrade Technologies. Previously, Winkler was the chief scientific officer at Arvinas. He also served as vice president of Discovery Biology and Translational Biology at Array Therapeutics. He held previous positions at Forma Therapeutics, J&J, GlaxoSmithKline and SmithKline Beecham.
Part of what is going on in the field of chemoproteomics is the reality that although 90% of human proteins can’t be targeted by small molecules because there are no known binding sites on the surface proteins, proteins are three-dimensional structures that are in constant motion. As they move, they create temporary pockets that can be selectively targeted by new drugs.
The company’s proprietary chemoproteomics platform is built on its growing database of hotspots, an expanding library of chemically diverse compounds augmented by machine learning techniques, and a novel approach to protein degradation.
And it now has $67 million to help fund its research.