Broad Institute Scientists’ Forma Therapeutics Raises $25M, Aims to Knock Out Underpinnings of Cancer

1/6/09

Forma Therapeutics, a startup company co-founded by scientists at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, has raised $25 million to create drugs that build on research that has yielded clues about the root genetic causes of what makes a cell turn cancerous.

Forma, based in Cambridge, MA, was formed 2007 to generate drug compounds that hit recently discovered cancer targets. Backed by sources including the Novartis Option Fund in Cambridge and Bio*One Capital of Singapore, Forma plans to unveil today its strategy for discovering new cancer treatments and its team of founders, which includes three stars from the Broad—Todd Golub, Stuart Schreiber, and Michael Foley.

The company intends to build on years of a $100 million federally-funded initiative at the Broad Institute, and other research centers around the country, called the Cancer Genome Atlas, to identify critical genes that can go awry and play a role in causing cancer.

“Forma recognizes the opportunity that lies in the discoveries of The Cancer Genome [Atlas] project, and we assemble the tools to go after the more difficult targets,” says Steven Tregay, CEO and co-founder of Forma.

Tregay, who had served as acting CEO of Forma, left his post as a managing director at the Novartis Option Fund in Cambridge in fall 2008 to become the full-time chief executive of the startup. Novartis Option Fund, formed by Swiss drug giant Novartis in 2007 (and which I profiled last year), is a lead investor in Forma along with Bio*One Capital, an investment arm of the Singaporean government.

Forma, which has operated under the radar until today, is using a combination of drug-discovery technologies to develop a pipeline of anti-cancer drugs. In September, Forma acquired … Next Page »

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