To bring Repare’s pipeline to the clinic and expand the use of its CRISPR-based screening platform, Cowen Healthcare Investments led the synthetic lethality company’s untranched $82.5 million series B round.
Cowen’s Kevin Raidy said that because of its interest in synthetic lethality, the firm had been keeping tabs on Repare and was “anxious to take a deeper dive.” Cowen decided to jump in as lead investor because it believed Repare had made enough progress on R&D, and the company had assembled a management team with years of experience in cancer.
Repare’s executives include EVP and CMO Maria Koehler, who was CMO of Bicycle Therapeutics plc, and before that, VP, oncology strategy, innovation and collaboration at Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE); and EVP and CSO Michael Zinda, who was executive director, head of cancer bioscience at AstraZeneca plc (LSE:AZN; NYSE:AZN). Both joined Repare this year.
“Targeted oncology, and in particular drug development based on a synthetic lethality approach, represents a significant area of opportunity for future oncology therapeutics,” Raidy said. “We think Repare has the potential to have a significant impact on how a variety of tumor types could get treated, especially tumor types with a lot of resistance to current therapies.”
While Repare had been contemplating an IPO or a potential takeout after raising its tranched $68 million series A in 2017, Repare President and CEO Lloyd Segal told BioCentury the company decided to raise an additional round after realizing the broad clinical potential of its pipeline.
“We didn’t want the markets to affect the choices we make while building out the company,” Segal said.
In addition to identifying targets, Repare uses its CRISPR-based screening platform, dubbed SNIPRx, to identify additional genes that are synthetically lethal with its compounds. Not only does it allow the company to more precisely match patients with a therapy, it increases the number of patients who are eligible for clinical trials and can benefit from the therapy, said Segal.
"We think Repare has the potential to have a significant impact on how a variety of tumor types could get treated."
SNIPRx screens two cell lines that are genetically identical except for a single cancer-associated mutation and identifies which gene perturbations create synthetic lethal interactions in the mutant cell line (see “Repare in Progress”).
Besides building out its biomarker-based patient selection tools, the bulk of the funds will go towards clinical and preclinical testing, Segal said.
Repare’s ATR inhibitor, RP-3500, is in IND-enabling studies and is expected to enter the clinic next year. The company is also developing an inhibitor against an undisclosed target in patients with CCNE1 mutations, which is slated to start clinical testing within the next two to three quarters, and a POLQ inhibitor, which is about a year and a half behind that.
The funds will take Repare through the initial clinical data readouts on its ATR and CCNE1 inhibitors.
Also participating were new investors OrbiMed Advisors, Redmile, BVF Partners and Logos Capital, as well as founding investor Versant Ventures and fellow existing investors MPM Capital, Fonds de solidarité FTQ and BDC Capital.
Versant and MPM co-led Repare’s $68 million series A round in 2017 (see “Synthetic Vitality”).
Raidy joined Repare’s board, as did OrbiMed’s David Bonita.
Targets: ATM - Ataxia telangiectasia mutated; ATR (FRP1) - Ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3 related; CCNE1 (CCNE) - Cyclin E1; POLQ - DNA-directed DNA polymerase θ