Cambridge, MA startup lands $15M A round for cancer drug pipeline

Cambridge, MA-based Tensha Therapeutics has come out of stealth mode with a $15 million Series A in an unusual solo venture round provided entirely by HealthCare Ventures. Still at the preclinical stage, Tensha is developing a small molecule aimed at a rare cancer, BRD4-NUT midline carcinoma, acute myeloid leukemias, multiple myeloma and other malignancies. And the startup says that its technology may also provide new therapies for inflammatory conditions and metabolic conditions.

Tensha in-licensed its drug technology from Dana Farber, where the company's scientific founder--James Bradner--identified and characterized "selective small molecule inhibitors of BET bromodomain proteins that are important for cancer cell growth." Last year Dr. Bradner and his team wrote up their work on the small molecule JQ1, which blocks an aberrant bromodomain-containing protein, BRD4-NUT, which causes midline carcinoma.

"There is a compelling biological rationale for bromodomain inhibition in cancer," said Dr. Bradner in a release. "Our collaborative studies to date have established the feasibility of targeting epigenetic reader proteins. Through Tensha, we have a foundation for developing and translating novel bromodomain inhibitors. This financing will allow Tensha to advance our first-in-class program through clinical proof-of-concept, lay the groundwork for clinical studies in other cancer indications and advance the preclinical development of bromodomain inhibitors in areas outside of oncology."  

"Tensha highlights our strategy of making 'focused company' investments in highly innovative, pre-clinical or early clinical stage products with the potential to transform patient care," says Douglas E. Onsi, managing director of HealthCare Ventures. "In line with our approach, we plan to develop Tensha compounds within a capital efficient organization to clinical proof-of-concept."

- see the Tensha release
- read the story from MassHighTech