Tiny North Carolina biotech G1 Therapeutics has raised $33 million in Series B financing to finance trials for its experimental cancer drug, the startup said Thursday, naming investors that include Eshelman Ventures, RA Capital Management, Boxer Capital, Lumira Capital, Hatteras Venture Partners, MedImmune Ventures and Mountain Group Capital.
As part of the deal, Fred Eshelman, founder of Eshelman Ventures, and Peter Kolchinsky, managing general partner of RA Capital, have joined G1's board of directors.
GI said it will plough that money right back into its attempts to create a therapy that will protect bone marrow from the harmful effects of chemotherapy. It’s trying to achieve that goal by focusing on lead candidate G1T28, a highly potent and selective CDK4/6 inhibitor, which is currently in Phase Ia clinical trials.
"This financing from new and existing investors is a testament to G1T28's potential in multiple oncology indications," said Mark Velleca, chief executive officer of G1, in a statement. "We're especially fortunate to have Fred and Peter on our board, as their business acumen and scientific expertise will be invaluable as we advance G1T28 through the clinic."
GI is attempting to gain the drug proof of concept as an antineoplastic agent and as a bone marrow chemoprotectant. And data collected from its current Phase Ia trial will decide the dose and schedule for multiple Phase 1b / 2a clinical trials in cancer patients, which are expected to begin in 2015.
For his part, Kolchinsky said he was delighted to be involved with G1 at such an early stage and looked forward to seeing where its pipeline went in coming years.
"Rarely does an entirely novel, orthogonal mechanism emerge in oncology that has the ability to combine with other approaches,” he said.
“There are many inhibitors of angiogenesis, immune evasion, DNA replication, and growth signaling. Shutting down the G1/S cell cycle transition via precise CDK4/6 inhibition is now emerging as a category unto itself, and G1 Therapeutics is the only small company with a selective agent in the clinic,” added Kolchinsky. “While three pharmas are ahead and have done much to validate this class, we expect significant interest from the many others that already appreciate — or soon will — that they have a gap in their toolkit."
G1 Therapeutics, Inc. is a privately held clinical-stage pharmaceutical company based in Research Triangle Park, N.C. that focuses on the discovery and development of novel small-molecule therapies with an aim towards improving oncology treatments. It currently has two main candidates, CDK4/6 antineoplastics, which shields bone marrow from damage by chemotherapy (chemoprotection); and G1T28.