GV, Roche help Ideaya to $94M crossover round, setting stage for synthetic lethality, I-O trials

Ideaya Biosciences has raised a $94 million crossover round to take its synthetic lethality and cancer immunotherapy programs into the clinic. Riding high on enthusiasm for both its chosen fields, Ideaya has added Alphabet’s GV and Roche to a list of investors already dotted with big names such as 5AM Ventures and Celgene.

South San Francisco-based Ideaya broke cover in 2016 with a $46 million series A round that set it up to run synthetic lethality screens. That entails using genome editing tools to identify pairs of mutations that, when hit simultaneously, lead to cell death. PARP inhibitors such as AstraZeneca’s Lynparza and Clovis Oncology's Rubraca use the same approach. But whereas those drugs are limited to the BRCA1/2 mutant, Ideaya is looking into other genetic subpopulations.

Led by former Flexus Biosciences COO Yujiro Hata, Ideaya has spent the past two years working to show it can deliver on that promise while also developing small molecule immuno-oncology assets.

Barely a peep has been heard of Ideaya over that period, but events over the past week show the lull in news is over. Following back-to-back releases about the $94 million series B and hiring of a CMO from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Ideaya is now equipped to get assets into the clinic and start showing if the investors that have bankrolled its progress to date have made smart bets. 

Following the series B, Roche has joined Celgene, Novartis and WuXi on the list of strategic investors. BVF Partners and GV sit alongside 5AM Ventures and Canaan Partners in the VC corner. And Nextech Invest and Perceptive Advisors, which between them participated in crossover rounds at Jounce, Neon, Regenxbio, Solid Biosciences and Zymeworks, have come on board.

RELATED: Celgene, Novartis back $46M Series A in next oncology play from Flexus execs

The expansion of the list of investors and dialling up of the funding available to Ideaya come at a time when the company is closing in on the clinic. Ideaya expects to get its first synthetic lethality and immuno-oncology assets into human testing in the first half of next year.

Labelling the series B as a crossover round and attracting investors focused on the private-public transition suggests Ideaya is lining up an IPO to further bolster its cash reserves. Biotechs can go from a crossover round to IPO in months but, for now, Ideaya is keeping its options open.

“An IPO is one strategic option for Ideaya. With the crossover financing that we just completed, we have the flexibility to monitor the public markets and if an IPO is the best option for Ideaya, we’ll pursue that at the right time,” a spokesperson said.