Fast-growing Forma nabs $25.5M Series B

Forma Therapeutics has capped a busy year with a $25.5 million Series B round, bringing its total venture haul for the year to more than $50 million as it pushes ahead with work on its own pipeline programs while swiftly marshaling a crowd of partners anxious to tap its innovative drug discovery platform for hot new drug prospects.

In a sign of Big Pharma interest, Lilly Ventures led this latest round, with Novartis Option Fund and Bio*One Capital out of Singapore joining in. Cubist Pharmaceuticals, which is partnered with the Cambridge, MA-based start-up, converted some debt into equity.

The investors were clearly drawn in by Forma's technology, which marries advanced screening abilities with software that can more accurately assess a drug candidate's ability to bind to a target. And the biotech company has a prestigious scientific pedigree: Forma was founded by researchers from the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.

Forma has been on the fast track. At the beginning of this year, the developer had about 40 employees, CEO Steven Tregay tells FierceBiotech. It's now expanded its staff to 85, with facilities in Singapore and Connecticut and its home base in Cambridge, MA. And its platform work identifying drug candidates with a good chance of succeeding against some of the toughest targets in biotech has attracted considerable industry interest in the start-up.

"Big Pharma is looking for innovation outside their own walls," says Tregay, who had been managing director at Novartis Option Fund, "and Forma has positioned itself very effectively to go after these challenging targets that many of these pharmas have failed at in the past." Forma has collaborations underway with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Novartis Institute of BioMedical Research, Novartis Option Fund, Cubist Pharmaceuticals, and the Experimental Therapeutics Centre of Singapore.

- check out Forma's release