Cancer biotech eFFECTOR pockets $16M to back its lead drug

eFFECTOR CEO Steve Worland

San Diego's eFFECTOR Therapeutics boosted its B round by $16 million, stockpiling cash as it mounts clinical trials for a cancer therapy.

The latest funds come from new investor Sectoral Asset Management, padding a $40 million close announced in December. The company's syndicate also includes AbbVie ($ABBV), Novartis ($NVS) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK).

Cash in hand, eFFECTOR is pressing forward with eFT508, a small-molecule therapy designed to block a pair of enzymes that regulate both cancer growth and immune response, according to the company. The drug is now in the midst of a Phase I/II trial in patients with advanced solid tumors, eFFECTOR said, and the company plans to start a lymphoma trial later in 2016.

Behind its lead drug, eFFECTOR is at work on discovery-stage therapies aimed at different cancer-related targets, and the company said it expects to name its second development candidate this year.

The fundraise brings eFFECTOR's total venture haul to about $111 million since its 2013 foundation. The company got off the ground with technology licensed from University of California, San Francisco, targeting enzymes responsible for regulating gene expression in an effort to halt the production of proteins that help cancer thrive.

The biotech tapped Steve Worland to come aboard as CEO, fresh from a stint at the helm of Anadys Pharmaceuticals that ended with a $230 million Roche ($RHHBY) buyout. Eli Lilly ($LLY) veteran Siegfried Reich serves as vice president of drug discovery.

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