Monte Rosa Therapeutics, a company originally formed as a spinout from Cancer Research UK-funded drug discovery research at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, in collaboration with Versant Ventures’ drug discovery engine Ridgeline Therapeutics, has closed a $96m ‘series B’ financing from investors to support the further development of its drug pipeline.
Monte Rosa Therapeutics specialises in targeted protein degradation, one of the most exciting new fields to emerge in drug discovery in recent years.
Protein-degrading molecules co-opt large cellular proteins, called ubiquitin ligases, to drive the breakdown of other target proteins – such as those that drive cancer.
The $96m in funding is in addition to an initial $32.5m of funding announced when Monte Rosa Therapeutics launched publicly earlier this year.
The latest ‘series B’ announcement demonstrates the ongoing success of the company, which has attracted new investors including Aisling Capital, HBM Healthcare Investments, Cormorant Asset Management, GV, Amzak Health, Casdin Capital, Sixty Degree Capital and Cambridge Asset Management as well as participation from founding investor Versant Ventures and existing investor New Enterprise Associates.
The company was formed in 2018 by Versant Ventures, The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and Cancer Research UK from Cancer Research UK-funded science at the ICR, with the involvement of the ICR’s Head of Chemistry Professor Ian Collins and Professor Raj Chopra, formerly the ICR’s Head of Cancer Therapeutics.
Monte Rosa Therapeutics’ new funding will enable it to accelerate the development of its pipeline, advance drug candidates into clinical studies, and bolster its platform capability to rationally design and develop precision medicines for genomically defined diseases intractable to standard of care.
Monte Rosa Therapeutics has built an integrated drug discovery platform that combines one of the most diverse chemical libraries of small-molecule protein degraders with in-house proteomics and structural biology capabilities.
The small molecules act as ‘molecular glue’ – sticking together ubiquitin ligases with other protein targets.
The lead series of one of the company’s leading programmes was originally discovered by chemists in the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit at the ICR, who also developed the initial library of protein degraders. Researchers there are still actively collaborating with Monte Rosa Therapeutics to develop protein-degrading drugs.
Forming spinout companies with support from venture capital is one of the ways in which researchers at the ICR are developing their work – including world-leading drug discovery scientists in the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit, who are working with the ICR’s Business and Innovation Office and Cancer Research UK’s Commercial Partnerships team to translate their discoveries into new cancer treatments.
They also work in partnership with industry in a range of other ways – including through licensing, forming collaborations and making strategic alliances, as well as forming spinout companies. The ICR regularly ranks amongst the world’s top universities in measures of collaboration with industry.
Professor Ian Collins, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at The Institute of Cancer Research and a scientific founder of Monte Rosa Therapeutics, said:
“It’s been a pleasure to play a part in the establishment of Monte Rosa Therapeutics and to see it moving to a new stage, with very substantial new investment from a range of funders. This is really exciting science with the potential to treat currently undruggable cancers in a new way, and ultimately make a major impact on the lives of cancer patients.”
Dr Angela Kukula, Director of Business and Innovation at The Institute of Cancer Research, said:
“Monte Rosa Therapeutics has been going from strength to strength since launching as a spinout from research here at the ICR, and it’s great to see it reach a new phase of expansion. We look forward to continuing to work with Monte Rosa as it develops new drug candidates into the clinical phase and which will, we hope, ultimately become new treatments for cancer patients.”
Tony Hickson, Chief Business Officer for Cancer Research UK, said:
“It’s fantastic to see Monte Rosa reach this significant milestone in its development. We helped found Monte Rosa to use cutting-edge research to accelerate the development of potential new treatments for cancer patients, and we’re delighted that Monte Rosa has attracted the support of leading venture capital firms to advance its pipeline into the clinic.”
Markus Warmuth, M.D., CEO of Monte Rosa, said:
“We are pleased to have the support of this strong group of investors who share our vision for driving a next-generation drug discovery approach that captures the promise of expanding the field of protein degradation into a broader array of diseases. With this financing, we are now well positioned to broadly develop our integrated drug discovery platform and advance multiple new therapies toward clinical development.”