Erasca picks up $42M to target biological drivers of cancer

Erasca has raised a $42 million series A round from the likes of City Hill Ventures and Cormorant Asset Management to work toward the lofty goal to “not just treat, but actually cure cancer.” 

That’s right—they used the “c” word. 

The company’s got “multiple discovery programs” in the works that target biological drivers of cancer, but did not say which drivers, exactly, these programs are targeting. It’s kept mum on its tech and targets, but its mission and the track record of its executive chairmain, serial entrepreneur Jonathan Lim, M.D., have caught investors’ interest. 

“Founded on exciting new discoveries around key molecular drivers of cancer, and having assembled a team of executives with a legacy of multiple prior successes, Erasca is the company that stands an excellent chance of deftly overcoming multiple obstacles along this exciting, yet long, journey of bringing a breakthrough medicine to patients,” said Bihua Chen, a portfolio manager at Cormorant Asset Management, in a statement. “Tackling a mission this large requires a combination of passion for the patient and strong business acumen. Jonathan’s background as a physician and biotech company leader who has led multiple successful companies, along with the outstanding team he has assembled, position Erasca well in executing on its mission.” 

A physician by training, Lim has co-founded and helmed several biotechs, including Ignyta—which Roche acquired for $1.7 billion in February—as well as Bonti, Eclipse Therapeutics and Halozyme Therapeutics. Joining Lim at Erasca are Chief Business Officer Gary Yeung, who’s held various roles at Genentech, Guardant and Annexon Biosciences, and Vice President of Biology Robert Shoemaker, Ph.D., another Ignyta alumnus. 

San Diego-based Erasca said in the statement that it would be more forthcoming when as it moves candidates into the clinic and that it’s looking to expand its pipeline through deals with academic and biopharma partners. 

“Cancer is a pervasive disease that has impacted nearly everyone I know in some way. Individuals continue to be seriously afflicted and in need of healing beyond what can be provided by available treatments,” Lim said. “Erasca was borne out of a mission to address this significant patient need and, one day, erase cancer. We recognize that this is an ambitious goal, as cancer is a formidable foe. But no mission worth taking is ever easy."