eFFECTOR Therapeutics, a newly established biopharmaceutical company, has completed a $45 million Series A financing. eFFECTOR is focused on inventing and developing small molecule drugs to selectively regulate protein synthesis, also known as translation, with an initial emphasis on cancer.
Series A investors include U.S. Venture Partners, Abingworth, Novartis Venture Funds, SR One, Astellas Venture Management, Osage University Partners and Mission Bay Capital. The funds will support multiple discovery programs and enable acquisition of tumor response data in patients for a lead drug candidate.
"Protein synthesis has been known to be a fundamental step in gene expression for decades, but was only recently recognized as a critical process regulating the cellular levels of certain key proteins," said Kevan Shokat, Ph.D., co-founder of eFFECTOR and chair of the department of cellular and molecular pharmacology at UC San Francisco (UCSF). "By addressing an effector mechanism required by many oncogenes, including previously undruggable targets, selective translation regulators have the potential to treat multiple tumor types and may confer benefits beyond what has been observed clinically with inhibitors of single oncogenic targets."
eFFECTOR co-founders also include Davide Ruggero, Ph.D., holder of the Helen Diller Family Endowed Chair in Basic Research at UCSF and a pioneer in the field of translation control and cancer, as well as several members of the management team, including Steve Worland, Ph.D., president and CEO; Siegfried Reich, Ph.D., senior vice president of drug discovery; Kevin Eastwood, senior vice president of business development; and James Appleman, Ph.D., a member of the scientific advisory board. The company has an exclusive license with the University of California to technologies related to translational control.
"eFFECTOR has harnessed a very unique technology and scientific approach in order to pioneer the discovery of selective translation regulators as a new class of therapeutics for cancer and other serious diseases,” said Larry Lasky, Ph.D., eFFECTOR board member and partner at U.S. Venture Partners. “This approach is a major paradigm shift from targeting disease-triggering mechanisms to a key effector mechanism, and if successfully executed could have a dramatic impact on the treatment of cancer. This is the age of innovation in drug discovery, particularly in oncology. eFFECTOR's is the kind of great science that VCs should be funding to build the pipeline of our next generation of medicines."
Worland said, "With the pressing need for continued improvement in healthcare outcomes, it is particularly rewarding to bring together cutting edge science from UCSF with experienced investors willing to fund innovation with sufficient capital to extend product development into the clinic. Creating such a fusion of academic excellence, far sighted investors and a seasoned management team remains an ideal way to transform advances in basic science into better treatments for patients."
In addition to Lasky, eFFECTOR has named the following board members: Ken Haas, executive partner at Abingworth; Markus Goebel, M.D., Ph.D., managing partner at Novartis Venture Funds; and Simeon George, M.D., partner at SR One.
eFFECTOR has also appointed Carol Gallagher, Pharm.D., as chairman of the board of directors. Gallagher, a distinguished industry veteran who has focused primarily on cancer therapeutics, currently serves on the boards of multiple companies and was CEO of Calistoga Pharmaceuticals until its acquisition by Gilead Sciences in 2011.