Cyteir Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biopharmaceutical company, has announced the close of a Series A financing totaling $5.5 million.
Cyteir, a spin-off of the Bar Harbor, Maine-based The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), is leveraging its expertise in DNA repair and genome instability to develop new targeted therapeutics for a range of human diseases, including cancer and autoimmune disorders.
The financing round included participation from a syndicate of private investors and Celgene. In addition, Cyteir obtained an exclusive license to key technologies and patents from JAX.
Cyteir was founded by JAX Associate Professor Kevin Mills, Ph.D., together with Tim Romberger, who led the company as interim CEO through the Series A financing, and JAX Chairman Emeritus David Shaw. The company advances Mills’ pioneering discoveries in the science of genomic instability and DNA repair.
Mills joined JAX in 2005. In addition to his faculty appointment, he is the associate director for translational partnerships in the JAX National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. Mills holds a B.A. degree in molecular biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a Ph.D. in biology from MIT, after which he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School.
“Dr. Mills’ insights are a potential game-changer in treating many cancers,” said oncologist and JAX President and CEO Edison Liu, M.D. “By targeting what he calls ‘genetic co-dependencies,’ he has shown that it’s possible to use the mechanisms involved in genetic instability to cause tumor cell self-destruction, without attacking normal cells.”
Cyteir will use the proceeds from the financing to accelerate its current lead program, enhance and diversify its screening platform, and build its pipeline by developing additional new drug candidates.
In addition to the closing of the Series A financing round, the company has appointed Donald Corcoran as president and CEO. He also will join the board of directors.
“I am excited at the opportunity to exploit genomic instability and DNA repair mechanisms with Cyteir Therapeutics,” said Corcoran. “It is additionally compelling to know that this area of scientific endeavor was recently recognized with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Our goal is to expand the boundaries of this science and provide new agents to patients in order to alter human diseases.”
Corcoran most recently served as chief of staff and head of operations for AstraZeneca in Waltham, Mass. Previously, he was president and CEO of MethylGene, a publicly traded development stage biotechnology company focused on small molecule inhibitors of various enzyme targets implicated in cancers including kinases such as c-Met, and epigenetic regulators, histone deacetylases and DNA methyltransferases.
Corcoran has more than 30 years of experience in life science companies with additional leadership and management positions at Hybridon, Schering-Plough and Eli Lilly. He received an M.B.A. degree from the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University and a B.A. degree from Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.