Twentyeight-Seven Therapeutics launched last September with $65 million to develop cancer treatments that modify microRNA to boost the levels of tumor-suppressing genes. Now, with a series A extension of $17.75 million, the company will develop programs aimed at other types of RNA as well as apply its work in disease areas other than cancer.
The company was founded in 2016 around technology from four Harvard Medical School professors across multiple disciplines: biological chemistry, molecular pharmacology and RNA medicine. Richard Gregory, Ph.D.; Frank Slack, Ph.D.; Piotr Sliz, Ph.D.; and George Daley, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the faculty of medicine, have worked together for years on the role of noncoding RNAs in disease and identifying related protein targets.
Rather than target the RNA itself, Twentyeight-Seven is developing drugs that focus on RNA-modulating proteins. Its lead program is a small molecule that inhibits Lin28, a protein that reduces levels of Let-7, a microRNA that suppresses tumors. By targeting Lin28, Twentyeight-Seven hopes to boost Let-7, thereby curbing the translation of oncogenes within cells.
The original $65 million series A came from Twentyeight-Seven's founding investor, MPM Capital, as well as Novartis Venture Fund, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Vertex Ventures HC, Longwood Fund and Astellas Venture Management. Since then, the company has moved into new digs in Watertown, Massachusetts.
Of the new funding, $15 million comes from Sofinnova Partners with the rest coming from Osage University Partners. It will support technology development and ramp up Twentyeight-Seven's cancer programs.
“Sofinnova Partners is known for being a company-builder, with a strong focus on teams and science. With Sofinnova’s participation, we are able to work on proteins that regulate additional classes of RNA, including mRNA, as well as to leverage the programs into indications outside of oncology,” said Twentyeight-Seven CEO Kazumi Shiosaki, Ph.D., in a statement.