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Cancer Biotech Lands $145M for First-in-Class Drug to Block Elusive Tumor Target


FogPharma’s has reached early clinical development with therapeutic candidate that takes a novel approach to treatment solid tumors. The company now has $145 million to continue the drug’s clinical development and advance more programs in its pipeline.

The drugs of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based FogPharma discovers and develops peptides capable of entering cells to address targets that drive disease. Such targets haven’t been drugged before due to the difficulty of getting a drug to act within a cell. FogPharma says its peptide drugs, which it calls Helicon therapeutics, can get inside a cell to modulate protein-protein interactions as well as protein-DNA interactions.

FogPharma’s lead program is FOG-001, a Helicon therapeutic designed to block a key step I the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway. Hyperactivation of this pathway is associated with the development and progression of various types of cancer, including colorectal, hepatocellular, and endometrial tumors. While this pathway has validation for playing a role in cancer, its location inside a cell has made it inaccessible to drugs that are antibodies or small molecules.

FOG-001 is administered as a once-weekly infusion. A Phase 1/2 clinical trial is evaluating the drug in patients with locally advanced or metastatic solid tumors, including colorectal cancer. The first patient was dosed last June. The trial’s targeted enrollment is about 200 participants.

“We believe FOG-001 may represent the long-awaited major technological breakthrough needed to address one of the most common yet unaddressed oncogenic signaling pathways,” FogPharma Chairman, President, and CEO Mathai Mammen said in a prepared statement. “This financing will allow us to execute on our expanded clinical development and commercialization strategy to deliver FOG-001 to patients, while simultaneously strengthening our discovery efforts against other compelling intracellular targets that drive a range of diseases.”

The FogPharma pipeline also includes discovery-stage program in development to address targets associated with prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, and more. FogPharma’s last financing was a $178 million Series D financing in late 2022. The company was founded by Greg Verdine, a former Harvard chemistry professor who has become a serial biotech entrepreneur.

The new financing announced Friday, a Series E round, was led by Nextech Invest. Investor and entrepreneur Alexis Borisy will join the FogPharma board in the position designated to Nextech. Other new investors that joined FogPharma’s latest financing include RA Capital Management, Rock Springs Capital, General Catalyst, Marshall Wace, Samsara Biocapital, Foresite Capital, Symbiosis, Catalio Capital Management, Sixty Degree Capital, and Johnson & Johnson’s former chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky.

Image by the National Cancer Institute

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