eFFECTOR Therapeutics Raises $45 Million in Series A Financing

eFFECTOR Therapeutics Raises $45 Million in Series A Financing

Company to Focus on Small Molecule Selective Regulators of Protein Synthesis for Cancer

San Diego, CA – May 20, 2013 – eFFECTOR Therapeutics, a newly established biopharmaceutical company, today announced the completion of a $45 million Series A financing.  eFFECTOR is focused on inventing and developing small molecule drugs to selectively regulate protein synthesis, also known as translation, with an initial emphasis on cancer.  Series A investors include U.S. Venture Partners, Abingworth, Novartis Venture Funds, SR One, Astellas Venture Management, Osage University Partners and Mission Bay Capital.  The funds will support multiple discovery programs and enable acquisition of tumor response data in patients for a lead drug candidate.

"Protein synthesis has been known to be a fundamental step in gene expression for decades, but was only recently recognized as a critical process regulating the cellular levels of certain key proteins," said Kevan Shokat, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at UC San Francisco (UCSF) and a co-founder of eFFECTOR. "By addressing an effector mechanism required by many oncogenes, including previously undruggable targets, selective translation regulators have the potential to treat multiple tumor types and may confer benefits beyond what has been observed clinically with inhibitors of single oncogenic targets." 

eFFECTOR co-founders also include Davide Ruggero, Ph.D., holder of the Helen Diller Family Endowed Chair in Basic Research at UCSF and a pioneer in the field of translation control and cancer, as well as several members of the management team, including Steve Worland, Ph.D., President and CEO; Siegfried Reich, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Drug Discovery; Kevin Eastwood, Senior Vice President of Business Development; and James Appleman, Ph.D., a member of the Scientific Advisory Board.  The company has an exclusive license with the University of California to technologies related to translational control.

"eFFECTOR has harnessed a very unique technology and scientific approach in order to pioneer the discovery of selective translation regulators as a new class of therapeutics for cancer and other serious diseases. This approach is a major paradigm shift from targeting disease-triggering mechanisms to a key effector mechanism, and if successfully executed could have a dramatic impact on the treatment of cancer," said Larry Lasky, Ph.D., eFFECTOR Board member and Partner at U.S. Venture Partners. "This is the age of innovation in drug discovery, particularly in oncology.  eFFECTOR's is the kind of great science that VCs should be funding to build the pipeline of our next generation of medicines." 

Commenting on the financing, Dr. Worland said: "With the pressing need for continued improvement in healthcare outcomes, it is particularly rewarding to bring together cutting edge science from UCSF with experienced investors willing to fund innovation with sufficient capital to extend product development into the clinic. Creating such a fusion of academic excellence, far sighted investors and a seasoned management team remains an ideal way to transform advances in basic science into better treatments for patients. It was an efficient process working with experienced licensing professionals in UCSF's Office of Innovation, Technologies and Alliances to complete the license, reflective of the University's commitment to transform the results of basic biomedical research into improved clinical care."

Board and Management Team

In addition to Dr. Lasky, eFFECTOR has named the following Board members: Ken Haas, Executive Partner at Abingworth; Markus Goebel, M.D., Ph.D., Managing Partner at Novartis Venture Funds; and Simeon George, M.D., Partner at SR One.  eFFECTOR also announced the appointment of Carol Gallagher, Pharm.D. as Chairman of the Board of Directors.  Dr. Gallagher, a distinguished industry veteran who has focused primarily on cancer therapeutics, currently serves on the boards of multiple companies and was CEO of Calistoga Pharmaceuticals until its acquisition by Gilead Sciences in 2011.

Dr. Worland, President and CEO, has 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry.  Prior to eFFECTOR, he was CEO of publicly traded Anadys Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Roche in 2011 after having progressed product candidates into the clinic for hepatitis C and cancer.  Dr. Worland served as President, Pharmaceuticals and Chief Scientific Officer at Anadys prior to being named CEO.  Previously, Dr. Worland held successive leadership positions at Agouron Pharmaceuticals, Warner-Lambert and Pfizer, including Director of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and Vice President of Antiviral Research.  Dr. Worland is also a Director of NASDAQ-traded GenMark Diagnostics.

Dr. Reich, SVP of Drug Discovery, also has 25 years of pharmaceutical industry experience.  Prior to eFFECTOR, he was a Research Fellow at Lilly, where he had oversight of structure-based and fragment-based design efforts across the Lilly discovery portfolio.  Previously, Dr. Reich was Vice President, Head of Drug Discovery at SGX Pharmaceuticals until its acquisition by Lilly, Vice President at Pfizer and Director of Medicinal Chemistry at Agouron Pharmaceuticals.  He is a named inventor of two commercialized products, Inlyta® and Viracept®, and responsible as an inventor or team leader for numerous product candidates currently in clinical development.  Dr. Reich is a recognized leader in the application of fragment and structure-based approaches to drug discovery and is a recipient of the PhRMA Discoverers Award.

Mr. Eastwood, SVP of Business Development, has 25 years of industry experience and was most recently Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at Anadys Pharmaceuticals, where he led the business development process resulting in Roche's acquisition of Anadys.  Previously he served as Vice President of Business Development at Ambrx, where he was responsible for more than $100 million in cash received through partnership agreements, and Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at Achillion Pharmaceuticals. 

About the University of California San Francisco Office of Innovation, Technology and Alliances (UCSF ITA)

The UCSF ITA coordinates UCSF's efforts in forging collaborations and licensing technologies that translate cutting-edge science on campus into therapies and products that directly benefit patients worldwide. The office oversees intellectual property, technology transfer, entrepreneurial activities and innovative alliances with commercial, non-profit, and government organizations. UCSF has more than 1,700 active inventions and 450 intellectual property licenses under management.  In addition, the ITA has major alliances and collaborations with industry partners.   More than 97 products are currently sold based on UCSF technology, with 13 more in clinical development. In addition, more than 90 companies have been founded based on UCSF technology. For more information visit, ita.ucsf.edu.