Repare Therapeutics secures US $68M Series A

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By Ted Liu

Repare Therapeutics Inc. has closed a US $68 million Series A financing co-led by founding investor Versant Ventures and MPM Capital with participation of Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Celgene Switzerland, an affiliate of Celgene Corporation, and BDC Capital’s Healthcare Venture Fund.

Jerel Davis, Ph.D., managing director at Versant, and Todd Foley, managing director at MPM Capital, will join Repare’s board of directors.

Repare Therapeutics intends to use new funds to advance its platform and pipeline of novel medicines that target genetically defined weaknesses of cancers.

With this financing, Repare emerges from Versant’s Discovery Engines after an 18-month stealth period during which the company advanced its leading CRISPR-enabled synthetic lethality drug discovery platform, identified several promising oncology targets and moved multiple programs into preclinical development. Founders Daniel Durocher, Ph.D., Agnel Sfeir, Ph.D., and Frank Sicheri, Ph.D., and their respective institutions, played instrumental roles in the company’s formation and growth in partnership with Versant.

“Versant’s commitment to and confidence in Repare’s distinct science has enabled the company to build the team, operations and initial programs away from the spotlight,” said Repare CEO Lloyd M. Segal. “With the added leadership of MPM and this syndicate, we are financed to achieve our goal of testing our multiple new, precision oncology therapeutics in a clinical setting.”

The core concept of synthetic lethality is that while a tumor can tolerate individual defects in its DNA, there exist combinations of defects that lead to the malignancy’s destruction. The recent approvals of several PARP inhibitors provide clear proof-of-principle for the approach of inducing synthetic lethality. 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.

In addition to Segal, a Versant Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Repare’s seasoned management team also includes R&D Head Michael Zinda, Ph.D., who built and led AstraZeneca plc’s Oncology iMed Bioscience group in Boston; and VP of Discovery Cameron Black, Ph.D., an accomplished 18-year leader of Merck Frosst’s medicinal chemistry efforts. Repare has a 20-member team based in Montreal and Boston.

“The fields of synthetic lethality and DNA repair have a rich, 20-year history and are poised to deliver impactful new cancer treatments,” said Davis. “We are impressed by the speed and precision with which Repare, in collaboration with its founders and scientific advisors, generated impressive insights and multiple novel targets.”

Repare’s first disclosed program targets DNA-directed DNA polymerase theta (PolQ), a central component of a pathway that repairs double-strand breaks in cancer cells. NYU School of Medicine has licensed to Repare exclusive rights to drug discovery work targeting PolQ, developed by Dr. Sfeir with the support of NYU Office of Therapeutics Alliances (OTA). This unique polymerase is highly expressed in ovarian, breast and a number of other cancers. In parallel, Repare is progressing several additional programs, with an aim to put its first compound in the clinic in 2019.

“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. “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.”

Private Capital Directory:
MPM Capital
Versant Ventures
Fonds de solidarité FTQ
BDC Capital

photo credit: Repare Therapeutics