Epigenetic Drug Startup Tensha Therapeutics Snags $15M Series A

9/12/11Follow @xconomy

Cambridge, MA-based drug developer Tensha Therapeutics announced today that it has snapped up $15 million in Series A funding from HealthCare Ventures. The funding will go to developing Tensha’s small molecule drug candidates, which are designed to treat cancer and other diseases by regulating the expression of disease-associated genes.

Tensha’s drugs are inhibitors of so-called bromodomains, protein modules that are key players in epigenetics—the process of turning genes on and off without altering the underlying DNA code. Tensha has an exclusive license from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to technology developed by one of its investigators, James Bradner, who identified and characterized small molecule inhibitors of certain bromodomain proteins that are key to cancer cell growth, according to today’s announcement. Tensha’s lead drug program is in pre-clinical development for treatment of a rare cancer called BRD4-NUT midline carcinoma, acute myeloid leukemias, multiple myeloma, and other diseases.

“There is a compelling biological rationale for bromodomain inhibition in cancer. Our collaborative studies to date have established the feasibility of targeting epigenetic reader proteins. Through Tensha, we have a foundation for developing and translating novel bromodomain inhibitors,” said Bradner in the announcement of the deal.

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