ROME Therapeutics, a biotechnology company harnessing the power of the repeatome for drug development, today announced the completion of a $77 million Series B financing led by new investor Section 32. In addition, new investors Sanofi Ventures, Casdin Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and Alexandria Venture Investments participated in the round, alongside existing investors ARCH Ventures, GV and Mass General Brigham Ventures (formerly Partners Innovation Fund). Concurrent with the financing, Steven J. Kafka, Ph.D., managing partner at Section 32, and Jim Trenkle, Ph.D., head of investments at Sanofi Ventures, were appointed to ROME's Board of Directors.
ROME's mission is to harness the power of the repeatome ? the roughly 60% of the human genome consisting of repetitive sequences of nucleic acids, known as repeats ? to discover powerful new classes of medicines for cancer and autoimmune diseases. Repeats have long been considered part of the "dark genome," but recent discoveries have demonstrated that the repeatome has pathological consequences in cancer, autoimmune disease and other therapeutic areas. Since launching in April 2020, ROME has identified multiple repeatome-derived targets and created an internal data science platform, called repeatomics, to analyze vast quantities of data available through the repeatome.
"In the short time since our founding, ROME has made significant progress uncovering the role and mechanism of the repeatome in cancer and autoimmune disease, which has led to our foundational repeatomics platform and identification of multiple tractable targets for drug discovery," said Rosana Kapeller, M.D., Ph.D., president, chief executive officer and co-founder of ROME. "With the support of this group of premier investors, we are well-capitalized and resourced to continue advancing our lead programs into the clinic, expanding our pipeline of repeatome-derived programs and enhancing our repeatomics platform, as we seek to revolutionize the way cancer and autoimmune diseases are treated."
"Traditional genomics has transformed how we think about drug development, diagnosis and treatment; however, for too long we have been unable to extend this approach to the ?dark genome,'" said Dr. Kafka. "Leveraging the deep insights garnered by ROME's experienced team of drug hunters and data scientists, ROME has developed innovative tools and techniques to generate novel insights from the repeatome in order to bring forward an entirely new and important class of disease-modifying medicines."
About New Directors
Steven J. Kafka, Ph.D., is a managing partner at Section 32, a venture capital fund investing at the frontiers of technology and healthcare. Dr. Kafka serves as chairman of the board of Glympse Bio and a director at ImmuneID, as well as CEO and director of DA 32 Life Science Tech Acquisition Corp. Previously, Dr. Kafka served as both founding CEO and executive chairman of Thrive Earlier Detection, which was acquired by Exact Sciences in January 2021. Dr. Kafka also served as executive chairman of ArcherDX, Inc., which was acquired by Invitae in October 2020. Earlier, Dr. Kafka served as president and chief operating officer of Foundation Medicine, Inc., which was acquired by Roche in 2018, and held executive roles at multiple public and private oncology drug discovery and development companies. Dr. Kafka earned a Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard University and a B.A. in economics and political science from Stanford University.
Jim Trenkle, Ph.D., is currently head of investments at Sanofi Ventures and has a background in research and development, commercialization and early-stage biotech investing. Dr. Trenkle currently serves on the board of directors at Therini Bio, Glycomine and Veralox Therapeutics. Prior to joining Sanofi, Dr. Trenkle was part of the early team at Pivotal bioVenture Partners in San Francisco, where he served as Board observer for Entasis (ETTX), Inozyme (INZY), Akouos (AKUS), Fusion Pharmaceuticals (FSUN) and Karuna Therapeutics (KRTX). He began his career with Gilead Sciences where he held positions of increasing responsibility in medicinal chemistry, project and portfolio management and commercial strategy, largely focused on hepatitis C and other liver diseases. Dr. Trenkle holds a B.S. in honors chemistry from the University of Michigan, a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from the University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business.
ROME Therapeutics is developing novel therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases by harnessing the power of the repeatome ? vast stretches of uncharted genetic material that have long been dismissed as "junk DNA." With several drug targets identified and multiple discovery programs underway, ROME is moving rapidly to leverage this new frontier in biology. To lead this exploration, ROME has assembled a team of world-class leaders across fields including oncology, immunology, virology and machine learning. ROME is based in Cambridge, Mass. For more information, please visit www.rometx.com.
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