Constellation Off to a Stellar $32 Million Start, Helmed (For Now) By Ex Millennium Boss
Constellation Pharmaceuticals, a new drug-discovery company based in Cambridge, MA, today announced that it has raised $32 million in Series A financing.
One of the lead investors in the deal is Boston’s Third Rock Ventures, which was launched last year by former Millennium boss Mark Levin. The Newbury Street firm is focusing on early stage investments in life science firms, especially those coming right out of an university, as Bob wrote last December.
That is an apt description of Constellation, a startup founded by three professors active in the emerging research field of epigenetics, among them Yang Shi, professor of pathology at Harvard. Epigenetics literally means “outside the genes.” While the genes contain the recipes for all the proteins in our bodies, epigenetic factors are believed to activate or switch off the genes, without altering the underlying DNA code. Constellation will initially concentrate on developing cancer drugs, but its technology can also be used to find new treatments for other diseases.
Levin, Constellation’s interim CEO, said in a press release that the startup is “the first company dedicated to the development of novel therapeutics in the field of Epigenetics.” But, as the Boston Globe points out in an article today, there are a number of other firms pursuing the same goal, like EpiZyme, a startup with part of its operations in Waltham, MA, as well as several established drug companies.
Third Rock’s co-lead investors in Constellation are The Column Group and Venrock.