Cleave Adds $10 Million to Series A Financing

BayBio member Cleave Biosciences raised $10 million from new investor New Enterprise Associates (NEA), bringing its Series A financing to $54 million.

NEA joins US Venture Partners, 5AM Ventures, Clarus Ventures, OrbiMed Advisors, Astellas Venture Management and Osage University Partners to fund the biopharmaceutical company’s cancer drug discovery and development.

According to an article in Fierce Biotech, the financing group is supporting the kind of expensive, translational research that many venture groups have sworn off over the past few years.

The Burlingame, CA-based company is discovering novel drugs that affect protein degradation pathways. Cancer cells frequently make an excess of proteins and hence become dependent on protein degradation for their survival. By attacking key targets in these pathways, cancer cells fail to balance this excess protein synthesis with protein degradation and can no longer survive.

Cleave’s lead program is discovering small molecules that target p97, a central player in the ubiquitin proteasome and autophagy pathways that are intimately involved in controlling protein degradation. Targeting protein degradation has been validated by the commercial success of VELCADE® (bortezomib) and KYPROLIS® (carfilzomib) in multiple myeloma. P97 inhibition is a novel approach that has the potential to treat a wide range of cancers.