Japanese biotech Prism snags $15M C round for cancer, fibrosis studies

A Japanese biotech named Prism Pharma says it has raised $15 million to back clinical trials for a lead cancer therapy now under way at MD Anderson in Houston. Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, a public-private partnership designed to back innovation in Japan's business community, took the lead, with the Development Bank of Japan also participating in the C round.

The money is being used to push early-stage work on PRI-724 for cancer that began last fall in Texas. Back in the spring of 2011 Eisai agreed to collaborate on the drug, which is also now being studied as a possible treatment for fibrosis.

"PRI-724 exhibits a selective antiproliferative effect, inhibiting various cancer cell lines in the laboratory and substantially inhibiting tumor growth in animal studies," says Prism's web site. "Wnt signaling is known to affect many other serious diseases such as fibrosis, and PRI-724 is also expected to provide a new therapeutic course of treatment for non-oncology indications."

"Targeting the pathways that control cellular differentiation and proliferation has potential to treat a range of conditions that are driven by cell division, including fibrosis, cancer, and other proliferative diseases," said Hiroyuki Kouji, CEO of Prism Pharma, which is based in Yokohama, in a release. "We have already made significant strides in studying PRI-724 in oncology, yet many patients suffering from fibrosis-related conditions today can only hope at best to slow the increase of fibrosis. Our Series C will allow us to move PRI-724 into the clinic for fibrosis."

- here's the press release