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Opna Bio launches with $38 million Series A




Clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Opna Bio which focuses on the discovery and development of novel oncology therapeutics, has raised $38 million in a Series A financing.

The round was led by Longitude Capital and Northpond Ventures, with additional participation from Menlo Ventures.

Proceeds from the round will be used to develop novel fragile-X mental retardation protein (FMRP) inhibitors in oncology as well as a diverse portfolio of clinical and preclinical oncology programmes acquired from Plexxikon Inc.

Opna was co-founded by Gideon Bollag, PhD, who was appointed CEO; Douglas Hanahan, PhD, distinguished scholar in the Lausanne Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and emeritus professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL); and Joseph Schlessinger, PhD, professor of pharmacology at Yale University School of Medicine.

Patrick Enright, managing director of Longitude Capital, said:

“We are thrilled to be a lead investor in Opna and to support this top-tier team of drug discovery and development experts who bring a strong track record of paradigm-changing cancer drug innovation and value creation.”

Dr Gideon Bollag said:

“I’m very excited about our rich drug candidate portfolio, which is focused on targeting immune suppression and other hallmarks of cancer.

“As a new company, Opna offers that rare combination of a compelling novel drug target as well as a diverse pipeline of preclinical and clinical programs, some of which have shown combinatorial activity in our FMRP models.”

The launch coincides with a Science* publication from the Hanahan Laboratory EPFL about FMRP’s emerging role as an immuno-oncology target.

The paper showed for the first time that knocking out or knocking down the FMRP gene in cancer cells enables the body to launch an immune response against tumours that are otherwise resistant to immune attack.

Opna Bio has an exclusive license for technology associated with FMRP from EPFL.

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