Type of information: Series A financing round
Company: Flare Therapeutics (USA-MA)
Investors: Third Rock Ventures (USA-MA) Boxer Capital (USA-CA) Nextech Invest (CH) Casdin Capital (USA-CA) Invus Financial Advisors (USA-NY) Eventide Asset Management (USA-MA)
Amount: $82 million
Funding type: series A financing round
Planned used: The Series A will support Flare’s further advancement of its lead program in precision oncology toward the clinic. In addition, the company will continue to build its unique engine and proprietary assays to discover small molecules that target transcription factors at switch sites.
Flare is targeting transcription factors through ‘switch sites’ – newly identified druggable regions that control predictable and profound changes in gene expression – as a fundamentally new way to discover novel small molecule medicines to treat the multitude of diseases driven by transcription factor dysregulation. Flare’s new drug discovery paradigm for targeting transcription factors is based on a broader understanding of the cooperative communication and allosteric interaction among the elements of the transcriptional molecular complex, which is distinct from the historically narrow focus on individual transcription factor domains in isolation. Seminal work by Flare’s scientific co-founders recently elucidated molecular mechanisms for targeting transcription factors, showing the way for Flare’s drug discovery team to recognize the broad potential to generalize these principles to the ‘switch site’ as a focal point for drugging transcription factors in a new way.
The Flare team brings together experienced biotechnology leaders with decades of industry expertise and deep scientific, drug discovery and development skills. Company leaders include Abbie Celniker, PhD, interim chief executive officer; James Audia, PhD, distinguished scientist; Lorence Kim, MD, interim chief operating officer; Jeanette Kohlbrenner, interim chief people officer; and Robert Sims, PhD, chief scientific officer.
Scientific co-founders and advisors of Flare include world-renowned experts with decades of experience understanding the biology and structure of transcription factors.
- Fraydoon Rastinejad, PhD, Flare co-founder, Wellcome-Trust Senior Investigator and Professor at the University of Oxford, is a world leader in the structure and function of transcription factors. Dr. Rastinejad has blazed a new understanding of how transcription factor complexes associate and cooperatively interact to facilitate DNA recognition. His scientific focus has included nuclear receptors and more recently bHLH-PAS proteins, where he demonstrated the bi-directional tuning of these transcription factors with synthetic ligands.
- Steven McKnight, PhD, Flare co-founder and chair of the Flare scientific advisory board, Professor at the University of Texas, Southwestern, is a transcription factor pioneer and member of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. McKnight’s notable work includes the discovery of leucine zipper transcription factors, unlocking the druggability of the non-nuclear receptor transcription factor HIF2A and co-discovery the phenomena of phase separation by low-complexity domains. He is also a successful serial entrepreneur, co-founding the transcription factor companies Tularik and Peloton.
- Mitchell Lazar, MD, PhD, Flare co-founder, Willard and Rhoda Ware Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, is a pioneer for his modern approach to understanding the linkage between genetic, environmental, and circadian mechanisms to gene control and disease. Dr. Lazar is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences. Among his notable discoveries are linking circadian rhythms and metabolism via the nuclear receptor REV-ERB, the hormone resistin, and the importance of PPARG in adipocytes.
- Stephen Frye, PhD, Flare advisor, Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor and co-director of the Center for Integrative Chemical Biology (CICBDD) and Drug Discovery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a prolific medicinal chemist and chemical biologist and a leader in the chemical biology of chromatin and gene regulation. Through the CICBDD, Dr. Frye has helped foster numerous collaborative academic drug discovery projects including one program currently progressing through multiple clinical trials. Prior to joining UNC, he was the worldwide vice president of discovery medicinal chemistry at GlaxoSmithKline. At GSK, the teams led by Stephen successfully developed three FDA approved drugs: Avodart, Tykerb, and Pazopanib.
- Robert Sims, PhD, Flare co-founder and chief scientific officer, is an industry leader in the drug discovery of gene control. Prior to joining Flare, Dr. Sims was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Third Rock Ventures and is a former founding scientist and senior vice president of research at Constellation Pharmaceuticals, where he helped establish its integrated epigenetics platform. At Constellation, Robert led the discovery and translational efforts of Pelabresib, a small molecule BET bromodomain inhibitor in Phase 3 for the
Others: • On May 13, 2021, Flare Therapeutics announced its launch and Series A financing of $82 million. The Series A was led by Third Rock Ventures with significant support by Boxer Capital, Nextech Invest, Casdin Capital, Invus Financial Advisors and Eventide Asset Management.
Therapeutic area: Cancer-Oncology