Novartis, Atlas Ventures back upstart IFM Therapeutics in $27M raise

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Atlas-incubated startup IFM Therapeutics has raised $27 million in a Series A round as it looks to begin clinical stage trials against cancer and inflammatory diseases.

The Cambridge, MA-based biotech is currently developing a portfolio of first-in-class small molecules that aims to either enhance innate immune responses for treating cancer, or dampen certain immune responses that drive many inflammatory diseases.

The financing round was led by VCs Atlas Venture (from which IFM was incubated as part of its seed program) and Abingworth, with money also coming from the prolific Big Pharma investor Novartis ($NVS).

As part of the funding drive, Jean-François Formela and Vincent Miles, partners at Atlas and Abingworth respectively, have joined IFM’s CEO and co-founder Gary Glick on the board of directors--with Formela serving as chair.

The biotech follows along the lines of another startup, Lycera, which in fact was founded by Glick, and also focuses on immune repsonses in cancer and inflammation. He stepped down as its CSO last year to run things at IFM. 

The company will use the cash boost to help advance and expand its early-stage portfolio and begin clinical development of its most advanced product candidate, a selective activator of a new target, for treating solid tumors. Further details were not given.

“While proteins in the innate immune system represent an attractive landscape of therapeutic targets, they have been notoriously difficult to drug,” said Dr. Formela.

“During the brief period since its founding, IFM has made excellent progress on several of these targets, reflecting its exceptional team of experienced scientists and executives, possessing expertise in medicinal chemistry, a deep understanding of the relevant biology, and relationships with academic thought leaders in the areas of immunology and immune oncology.”

“This financing is an important validation of the IFM team and technology,” added Dr. Glick. “The company is fortunate to be working with a talented and experienced group of investors. Their expertise in building world-class biopharmaceutical companies will be invaluable as we grow the company.”

- check out the release

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