ENSEM Therapeutics Banks $67 Million in Search of New Drug Targets


With $67 million in hand from a Series A financing deal, ENSEM Therapeutics emerges from stealth mode with a focus on high value and difficult-to-drug oncology targets. Proceeds from the Series A will be used to further advance the company's Kinetic Ensemble platform and accelerate its R&D pipeline.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company, which CBC Group incubated, is harnessing its Kinetic Ensemble platform in order to develop small molecule medicines for oncology. ENSEM Chief Scientific Officer Shengfang Jin said Kinetic Ensemble is capable of revealing new targets for drug development and can lead to the development of novel classes of small molecule therapies. 

“Biomolecules such as proteins and RNAs are in constant motion, with an ensemble of conformations that govern their functions. Traditional approaches have been ineffective in productively capturing these dynamic states due to experimental and computational limitations," Jin said in a statement. 

According to its website, the startup took the name ENSEM because it said the word “symbolizes innovations via the integration of groundbreaking technologies to decipher structural ENSEMbles and kinetics for drug design.” 

With the use of artificial intelligence and computational methodologies, ENSEM aims to identify “non-obvious binding pockets” to accelerate structure-based drug design for those high-value and difficult-to-drug targets. The company believes its precision medicine approach will also offer it the potential to expand into other areas, including genetic disorders.

The company does not yet list any developmental programs on its website, only noting that oncology is the first space it intends to make its mark.

Sean Cao, chief executive officer of ENSEM and managing director of CBC Group, said the pharmaceutical industry is seeing a bottleneck with the development of therapeutics due to the slow pace of clinical programs and a limited number of druggable targets. 

"The ENSEM team is made up of veteran drug hunters with extensive experience in advancing novel medicines into clinical trials and regulatory approvals. We will combine new tools coupled with AI and machine learning to break these barriers,” Cao said in a statement. 

The recently-announced Series A2 round was led by GGV Capital. Participants in the round included Pavilion Capital, Cenova Capital, Mitsui & Co. Global Investment, Inc., and CBC Group. Proceeds from the Series A2 took Ensem’s total financing to $67 million. 

Joshua Wu, a partner at GGV Capital, said in a short time, ENSEM has made “remarkable progress.” Wu touted the industry and technical expertise of the company’s leadership team and said that combined with the Kinetic Ensemble platform, it will deliver a new generation of drug targets.

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