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Cancer Therapy Biotech Raises $24M in Early Funding

Money stack

(Andrew Magill/Flickr)

14 October 2014. Raze Therapeutics, a biotechnology company designing cancer therapies that stop mechanisms feeding the growth of cancer cells, raised $24 million in its first round of venture financing. The funding round was led Atlas Venture — that co-founded Raze and provided some of its seed capital — as well as MPM Capital Management, MS Ventures, Partners Innovation Fund, Astellas Venture Management, and the pharmaceutical company Novartis.

The company, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is building a platform to find and develop therapies that address early mechanisms in the body feeding the aggressive growth of cancer cells, both for solid tumors and blood-related cancers. Raze is targeting a specific type of cellular support known as one-carbon metabolism that the company’s scientific founders say is important to uncontrolled growth of cancer cells, and up to now, not fully appreciated for its role.

One-carbon metabolism’s function in cancer is to drive the accumulation of biomass in tumors, triggered by malfunctioning gene expression or genetic mutations. This function feeds the mitochondria or energy reservoirs of adult cells that divide independently of the cell’s replications. Raze’s platform targets early proteins that support one-carbon metabolism in specific cancer cells, combining biochemistry and data mining to identify biomarkers for therapy targets, then developing drugs to break this mechanism feeding cancer growth.

Raze Therapeutics was founded by cell biologists Vamsi Mootha at Harvard Medical School, Joshua Rabinowitz of Princeton University, and David Sabitini at MIT’s Whitehead Institute, all of whom serve as scientific advisors. Their expertise covers cell growth and metabolism, as well as computational tools to reveal underlying molecular processes. Peter Barrett of Atlas Venture co-founded the company, and now serves as its board chair. Jason Rhodes, also an Atlas Venture partner, is Raze’s acting CEO.

Atlas Venture invests in early stage technology and life science enterprises, and is backing 23 other life science companies in the U.S. and Europe. The firm announced earlier this month it plans to split into two companies, one in life sciences (that keeps the Atlas name) and the other for information technology, with separate investment funds in each company.

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