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Cancer therapy firm Gritstone gets $102 million to start

Gritstone Oncology Inc., the latest company in Cambridge’s booming life sciences hub to focus on developing personalized treatments for cancer, has received $102 million in funding.

The company, which is headquartered in San Francisco but does bioinformatics and gene-sequencing work in Cambridge, said it would seek to discover and develop tumor-specific therapies, with an initial focus on lung cancer. It’s one of several companies to focus on “precision medicine,” which could improve cancer treatment but is still in its early stages.

The company was founded by a group of doctors and researchers including Dr. Mark Cobbold of Massachusetts General Hospital. Other cofounders come from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the Institut Gustave Roussy in Paris, and King’s College London.

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Roman Yelensky, formerly an executive at the Cambridge cancer diagonstics firm Foundation Medicine Inc., leads the company’s Cambridge operations. Four of its seven employees are located in Cambridge, and the company plans to increase its local workforce to 12 to 16 by the middle of 2016, according to a spokeswoman.

“We believe that this substantial funding, along with our best-in-class expertise, a systematic discovery and development approach, and our commitment to do the scientific heavy lifting required, will enable us to solve the core challenge of identifying personalized, therapeutic neo-antigens for individual patients,” said Dr. Andrew Allen, chief executive.

Versant Ventures and the Column Group, both with offices in San Francisco, were the lead investors in the $102 million series A funding round, according to a news release.


Jack Newsham can be reached at jack.newsham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.