Flare Therapeutics, a drug discovery startup, announced on Wednesday it raised $123 million in Series B funding. The round was co-led by GordonMD Global Investments and Pfizer Venture Investments.
Funding will go toward powering its clinical trial, which is expected to take place later this year to delve into its oncology program.
The 2-year-old company, based in Massachusetts, is working in drug discovery, a recently revived startup sector that has been powered by the “omics,” — genomics, metabolomics, proteomics and transcriptomics — to find new drug targets.
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“Transcription factors have long been viewed as prime therapeutic targets playing a key role in a broad range of diseases, particularly cancers, where they represent one-third of all oncogenes,” Rob Sims, co-founder and chief scientific officer at Flare, said in a statement. “While targeting transcription factors has the potential for incredible impact, their complex structure makes them notoriously difficult to drug, requiring a new approach and new thinking.”
The omics are a fast-growing sector in the private market and have quickly become a darling among biotech venture firms. In 2021, funding in the area peaked at around $2.49 billion. In 2022, despite the economic downturn, omics startups still nabbed around $2.4 billion, per Crunchbase data.
Drug discovery gets an update
Flare Therapeutics targets transcription factors and looks for something the drug can “stick” to once it is inside the body. This has been perhaps the biggest problem plaguing drug discovery. Scientists have spent decades using the same targets to create drugs instead of finding new ones. This is important: As a disease morphs and changes, it will look different inside the body and drugs need to be able to locate it in its new form or in its infant form before it severely affects the body.
Between 2017 and 2018, funding in drug discovery increased by 190%, according to Crunchbase data. This was in part thanks to the data collection tools that became popularized during that time.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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