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Epizyme, based in Cambridge and working on cancer-fighting genetic drugs, has raised $32 Million from a diverse group of investors including Kleiner Perkins, Amgen and Astrellas Pharma November 14, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Biotech, Pharmaceuticals, Venture Capital.
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Epizyme, based in Cambridge, MA and working on cancer-fighting genetic drugs, announced on October 7th that it had raised $32 Million from a diverse group of investors including the famed Silicon Valley -based Kleiner Perkins Caulfied and Beyers, the the venture-investing units of both biotech giant Amgen and Japanese drugmaker Astrellas Pharma.

The startup has raised $46 Million to date. Epizyme’s drugs attack cancer-causing enzymes. Genes determine how our bodies change over time. But they only spring into action when prompted by another set of biochemical factors – seperate from DNA – known as the epigenome. Epizyme scientists believe they may be able to control disease-related genes by aiming new drugs at these factors.

The science of epigenetics is understandably complex. Raising such funds was an impressive feat for this startup, given a market that is hostile currently to biotech startups.

The amount of venture capital raised by biotechs in the third quarter of 2009 dropped 30% Year-over-year, to $759 Million, according to a recent report by financial services firm Burrill & Co.

Epizyme is primarily in the spotlight for its promising research on cancer. The company’s understanding of how DNA wraps around proteins that control how genes create cells, tissues and organs are the basis of its discoveries.

Epizyme’s newest genetic pharmaceuticals are designed to cripple malfunctioning enzymes that contribute to such afflictions as cancers of the prostrate, lung, breast and more. These drugs may someday be tested against inflammatory diseases, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease as well.

Dr. Kazumi Shiosaki, PhD, is a chemist who founded Epizyme with funding from MPM Capital, where she worked after leaving Millenium Pharmaceuticals. Prior to that, Shiosaki worked at Abbott Laboratories.

Epizyme is working in the exciting field of epigenetics and has a solid stable of talented scientists and drug industry veterans, including Chief Scientific Officer Robert A. Copeland, who came to the company from GlaxoSmithKline.


1. Thomas F. McCoy - January 14, 2010

when do you expect to have Drug aviable for lung cancer

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