Westphal VC group backs a cancer stem cell startup

Christoph Westphal's new venture fund, the Longwood Founders Fund, has found a home for some of its investment cash. Longwood joined Bessemer Venture Partners, Cardinal Partners, and MPM Capital in a $16 million Series A designed to bankroll Verastem, a Boston-based biotech out to develop more efficient methods for killing cancer stem cells.

Verastem was founded by some distinguished scientists, including Piyush Gupta and Robert Weinberg of the Whitehead Institute and Eric Lander from the Broad Institute. Together they developed a proprietary approach to identify compounds with the potential to selectively kill cancer stem cells.

"I believe cancer stem cell-targeted therapies represent a transformative way to treat patients with cancer," said Weinberg, who is also a professor of biology at MIT.

Westphal, Michelle Dipp, and Rich Aldrich built Sirtris Pharmaceuticals and sold it to GlaxoSmithKline for $720 million. They created Longwood earlier this year with $50.7 million and have since been adding to their cache of biotech cash.

- check out the Verastem release
- here's the story from the Boston Business Journal