Stars align for Constellation as it adds $15M in venture funds

Cambridge, MA-based Constellation Pharmaceuticals has taken another step forward in its development, banking $15 million in a Series B extension as it focuses on its first partnering deals and a transition into the clinic in 2012. The new money comes on top of its initial $22.5 million B round and brings its total venture capital raised to close to $70 million.

Constellation, a 2008 Fierce 15 company originally helmed by Third Rock's Mark Levin and focused on new cancer drugs, has been making a name for itself in the epigenetics field. Constellation's researchers have been examining the role enzymes play in orchestrating the way that DNA activates genes. By shutting target genes on or off by modulating chromatin structures, their technology can control the mechanism of disease. Constellation has been working on preclinical candidates and CEO Mark Goldsmith says that the biotech now has two key targets on its radar.

"Our ambition and hope is to bring the first of our programs into the clinic by the end of 2012," Goldsmith tells FierceBiotech. He adds that Constellation now has 60 employees on staff with more chemists working for them on a contract basis in Asia. Third Rock Ventures, The Column Group, Venrock Associates, SR One and Altitude Life Science Ventures all contributed to the Series B extension.

The biotech "has quite a number of partnering opportunities," adds Goldsmith, who's been in talk with pharma companies intrigued by the potential of the developer's product platform. The CEO adds that he hopes to have one or two pacts completed by the end of this year.

- here's the Constellation release