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Biotech Developing Anti-Cancer Drugs Gets $15M Investment

Money stack (Andrew Magill/Flickr)Tensha Therapeutics in Cambridge, Massachusetts says it has received $15 million in early stage financing to advance treatments for cancer by regulating the transcription of disease-associated genes. The series A investment — the first round of funding after a company’s initial seed capital — is provided by HealthCare Ventures, life science venture capital firm, also in Cambridge.

Tensha Therapeutics is developing small-molecule bromodomain inhibitors, a new class of epigenetic (non-DNA) modulators of gene expression, to treat cancer and other serious disorders. Bromodomains are protein modules that play critical roles in reading epigenetic marks on chromatin that serve as instructions for the transcription of specific genes.

The company’s lead program, still in preclinical stage, is a small molecule aimed at the treatment of BRD4-NUT midline carcinoma, a rare and invariably fatal cancer. It also has potential for treating acute myeloid leukemias, multiple myeloma, and other malignancies.

The work of Tensha Therapeutics is based on the research of James Bradner of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and a founder of the company. Bradner’s lab investigates the discovery of small-molecule modulators of gene regulatory pathways that can turn off growth genes in cancer cells by inhibiting master regulators of cell division and cellular memory.

Tensha has an exclusive license from Dana-Farber to develop the technology. The financing is expected to fund the program through clinical proof-of-concept, lay the groundwork for clinical studies applicable to other types of cancer, and advance the preclinical development of bromodomain inhibitors in areas outside of oncology.

Read more: Baxter Sets Up Venture Fund for New Therapies

Photo: Andrew Magill/Flickr

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