Scorpion Therapeutics Scores $108 Million Series A Funding for Oncological Research
By Eduardo Longoria
On October 26th, Boston-based Scorpion Therapeutics, a just-hatched fledgling company, announced the closing of a $108 million Series A financing. The investment was led by Atlas Ventures, Omega Funds, and Vida Ventures, with participation from Abingworth and Partners HealthCare Innovation. Notably, Atlas Ventures and Abingworth were both participants in the Series A round of IFM (one of the former companies of Scorpion’s current CEO, Dr. Gary Glick)
The financing will be used to advance Precision Oncology 2.0., meaning precision medicine specializes in small molecule drugs that target cancer. By developing medicines that are better able to spare healthy tissue and minimize side effects, the company aims to address untreatable or treatment-resistant cancers and normalize precision oncology. The company’s deep capabilities in next-generation chemistry would enable us to design precision therapeutics for both new targets and those previously dismissed as undruggable.
“Cancer is a complicated and devastating disease that continues to evade our best efforts to conquer it. Precision medicine represents a tremendous advance, with the potential to offer increased efficacy and decreased toxicity, but its promise remains unfulfilled for far too many patients,” said Dr. Glick.
Comprehensive Tumor Molecular Profiling
Scorpion is building a comprehensive drug hunting engine to broaden the reach and impact of precision medicine for oncology. Comprehensive tumor molecular profiling has uncovered thousands of recurrent genetic mutations now known to be important drivers of cancer. While current therapies have to be optimized, many newly discovered targets now known to be important for cancer proliferation and survival are still considered “undruggable.” Besides, multi-omic data that may hold the key to transformative novel cancer targets have historically been too difficult to mine.
Scorpion has assembled the talent and technology to address these current limitations and developed a strategy to deliver precision oncology’s full promise. Scorpion will focus initially on three key efforts; designing first-in-class drugs against known oncogenes, drugging known – but classically undruggable – cancer targets, and discovering novel targets with the potential to transform cancer treatment paradigms.
Lead investors are impressed with Scorpion’s founding team, cutting-edge science, and bold vision of making precision oncology the norm rather than the exception.
“Scorpion’s delivery of Precision Oncology 2.0 is smart and systematic. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has assembled a renowned team, built a cutting edge discovery engine, and established a robust preclinical pipeline,” said Paulina Hill at Omega Funds.
“Their investments in data sciences and next-generation chemistry power a discovery engine that is purpose-built to find the best drugs for proven targets, as well as exploit novel ones. We look forward to supporting the Scorpion team in their mission to change the landscape of cancer treatment,” said Arjun Goyal, Co-founder and Managing Director at Vida Ventures.
“I am delighted to partner again with Gary, and like we did at IFM, help build another world-class biopharmaceutical company,” said Jean-François Formela, Partner at Atlas Venture.
Scorpion’s Strong Points
As an incredibly young company, one of Scorpion’s primary assets is its personnel. The incredibly experienced and educated founders and leadership team are a substantial part of why it raised money. Scorpion’s Founders, Gary D. Glick, Ph.D., Keith Flaherty, M.D., Gaddy Getz, Ph.D., and Liron Bar-Peled, Ph.D. are leading academics with industry experience. Joining them is Darrin Stuart, Ph.D. as Chief Scientific Officer, Angel Guzman Perez, Ph.D. as head of discovery, and Erica Jackson as EVP of target biology.
Much like the scorpion in nature, the precision oncology sphere has had an R-type reproductive strategy. Gary Glick has had three other immune system medicine companies since 2006, with two out of three being either acquired (IFM) or are being auctioned off in pieces (Lycera). While it is often sad to see a firm go, this cut-throat environment provides ample lessons and purchasable intellectual property.
However, IFM’s cancer immunotherapy division, IFM Therapeutics, was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb for 10 times the initial investment. Given this financial success and Gary Glick being the CEO, that model would likely satisfy Scorpion’s investors. The difficulties and short life span of these companies may lead to an ample amount of patents on the market, but it would be interesting to see Scorpion’s lifespan.
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