Repare Therapeutics Bursts From Stealth Mode With $68 Million and a Team Packed With Industry Alums

Repare Therapeutics Bursts From Stealth Mode With $68 Million and a Team Packed With Industry Alums June 22, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Montreal, Quebec – Repare Therapeutics burst out of stealth mode with a $68 million Series A financing. The round was co-led by founding investor Versant Ventures with MPM Capital. They were joined by other syndicate investors that include Fonds de solidarite FTQ, Celgene Switzerland, and BDC Capital’s Healthcare Venture Fund.

Repare is working on synthetic lethality. It is using CRISPR gene editing technology to investigate molecular targets such as p53 and BRCA1 to, as John Carroll, writing for Endpoints News, says, “conspire with other mutations in the destruction of a malignancy, following the trail of lesions in the pursuit of new therapies that can work in the same fundamental way those PARP inhibitors you’ve been hearing so much about can fight cancer.”

The idea is that tumors have a lot of tolerance for DNA mutations, but there are combinations of DNA mutations that can kill them. PARP inhibitors, a relatively new class of cancer-fighting drugs, presents proof-of-principle for the concept. Repare states, “Repare and its founders have developed large-scale and novel methods for discovering additional drug targets that, when inhibited, may induce synthetic lethality. New drugs directed at these targets hold promise to improve cancer treatment both as single therapies and in combination with existing drugs and treatments.”

The company’s management includes Michael Zina as R&D Head. He formerly led AstraZeneca ’s Oncology iMed Bioscience group in Boston. Cameron Black is vice president of Discovery. He was a leader of Merck Frosst’s medicinal chemistry efforts.

Repare was founded by Daniel Durocher, Agnel Sfeir and Frank Sicheri. Durocher is a senior investigator at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, where he is Director of the Biomedical Program. He is also a Full Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. Sfeir is an assistant professor in the Skirball Institute of Biomolecule Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. Sicheri is a senior investigator at the Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital and professor in the Departments of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at the University of Toronto.

The company has 20 people based in Montreal and Boston. As part of the investment, Jerel Davis, managing director at Versant, and Todd Foley, managing director at MPM Capital, will join Repare’s board of directors.

The first program Repare has disclosed targets DNA-directed DNA polymerase theta (polQ). PolQ is a key component of a pathway that repairs double-strand breaks in cancer cells. The rights to work with PolQ were licensed from NYU School of Medicine. The polymerase is highly expressed in ovarian, breast and other cancers.

“We evaluated nearly every opportunity in the synthetic lethality space and have complete conviction that Repare, its founders and its SAB members represent the leaders in the field,” said Foley in a statement. “MPM is dedicated to investing in and building companies that seek to find cures for cancer and save lives and we look forward to the advancement of Repare’s programs and the development of these meaningful medicines.”

The company spent about 18 months in stealth mode at Versant’s Discovery Engines.

Jerel Davis, managing director at Versant, told Carroll, “In terms of the incubation period, this company is deceptively mature.”

“The time we’ve been able to spend in stealth allowed us to build the company out of the spotlight,” Lloyd Segal, Repare’s chief executive officer, told Carroll.

At this time, the company believes it has enough money for a four-year runway, and plans to take two compounds into the clinic in late 2019 or early 2020.

The Globe and Mail notes that Repare is the sixth Canadian firm to be created, incubated and financed by Versant. It writes, “Versant, with $2.3-billion under management, isn’t just a financier but a company creator, staffed by doctors and researchers who build firms around science and scientists in partnership with global pharma giants. Sixty-five Versant-backed firms have been acquired or gone public since 1999.”

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