Just over two months after announcing its debut with $108 million in funding, Boston startup Scorpion Therapeutics said Thursday it has raised an even larger amount of venture capital.
Scorpion, which focuses on “precision medicine” for cancer, said it has completed a $162 million funding round, bringing the biotech’s total venture haul to about $270 million. It’s a large amount for a new company that so far has kept much of its work under wraps, and a sign that the region’s early-stage biotech industry is vibrant, despite the pandemic.
“This will allow us to accelerate nearly all aspects of the business,” said Gary Glick, Scorpion’s chief executive, who pointed out the oversubscribed round brought on 11 new investors.
Glick said the company would announce its first medicine candidate this year, with plans to begin clinical trials in 2022. While he declined to provide an update on how many other drugs the company has in development, Glick said the new funding could help Scorpion support multiple clinical trial programs.
Scorpion is aiming to tackle cancer in three ways. It wants to make better medicines for known cancer mutations, which could spare healthy tissue and limit side effects, develop medicines for cancer targets previously dismissed as “undruggable,” and discover new ones. Scorpion has plans to commercialize its own drugs, Glick said, instead of partnering with pharmaceutical giants.
The new funding will also help Scorpion expand its more than 30-person team, which has been working out of an incubator space in the Seaport District since June. The company will soon move to a new headquarters in Boston early this year, although Glick did not disclose where it would be.
“It’s a wonderful space... large space, and we couldn’t be more delighted with it,” he said.
Scorpion also has a cancer biology lab in San Francisco and an office for general administration and finance work in New York.
Glick said it was a good time for Scorpion to seek additional funding because there was “considerable interest in the company” at a time when “biotech funding is at an all-time high.”
The recent round was led by Boxer Capital of Tavistock Group, EcoR1 Capital, LLC, Omega Funds, and Vida Ventures, with participation from several new investors including Surveyor Capital Management, Invus Public Equities, L.P., Wellington Management Company, Nextech, and OrbiMed. The round also included undisclosed institutional investors and the startup’s previous investors Atlas Venture and Abingworth.
“The investors are extraordinarily experienced and savvy in biotech, which really benefits the company,” Glick said. “They are bullish behind what we are doing and the vision that we set forth for Scorpion, to really build the next big target oncology company. '
Glick said Scorpion is not actively pursuing a third round of funding, but he admitted “every biotech company always needs more money.”
“As long as we continue to add value and do what we are doing, I think we will be in a good spot moving forward,” he said.
The founding team at Scorpion includes Keith Flaherty, who cofounded Loxo Oncology, which was acquired by Eli Lilly in 2019 for $8 billion; Gaddy Getz, who runs the Cancer Genome Computational Analysis Group at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; and Liron Bar-Peled, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Cancer Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Glick previously ran Boston-based IFM Therapeutics, where he brought three immunotherapy drugs to clinical trials in three years, signing pharmaceutical deals with Bristol Myers Squibb and Novartis. Scorpion is the fourth biotech started by Glick, who also co-founded IFM, Lycera, and First Wave Bio.