NEW YORK – Flare Therapeutics earlier this week said it has raised $123 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round that it will use to advance a first-in-class PPARG inhibitor to the clinic later this year.
GordonMD Global Investments and Pfizer Ventures led the Series B financing. They were joined by existing investors Boxer Capital, Casdin Capital, Eventide Asset Management, Invus Financial Advisors, Nextech Invest, and Third Rock Ventures, and by new investors Agent Capital, Eli Lilly, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Novartis, Pavilion Capital, and ShangBay Capital.
Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Flare is developing precision cancer medicines that target transcription factors. The company said it will put the new funds toward studying the activity of its lead candidate FX-909, a small molecule inhibitor targeting the PPARG transcription factor, in a clinical trial involving advanced urothelial cancer patients this year. Flare previously said it aims to enroll patients whose cancers are expected to have higher PPARG gene expression due to alterations in PPAR gamma, RXRZ, or FGFR3. The company is also exploring using an immunohistochemistry-based assay to prospectively identify best responders to the drug.
Flare plans to further apply the funds toward advancing other transcription factor-targeting agents in its pipeline and nominate at least one agent to clinically develop in 2024. The company has four undisclosed discovery-stage agents it is studying in solid tumors.
Flare CEO and President Amit Rakhit said in a statement that he expects 2023 to be "a pivotal year" for the company. "Our investor support is testament to the rapid progress our team has made since launch in advancing the only company focused on rationally designing transcription factor targeting therapies," Rakhit said. Flare launched in May 2021, having raised $82 million in Series A financing.
In conjunction with the Series B financing, Craig Gordon, founder, CEO, and chief investment officer at GordonMD Global Investments, and Irena Melnikova, a partner at Pfizer Ventures, joined Flare's board of directors. Gordon and Melnikova both highlighted Flare's drug discovery platform, which allows identification of "switch sites" or druggable pockets within key functional transcription factor complexes.
Since Flare has identified more than 150 switch sites across the majority of transcription factor families, investors are optimistic the company can develop therapies for a variety of diseases, not just for cancer. "We believe Flare's differentiated and comprehensive approach to uncovering, targeting, and systematically drugging switch sites on transcription factors may unlock the therapeutic potential of this class of targets, not only in oncology but in other indications as well," Melnikova said in a statement.