Epizyme Builds A Cancer Company At Mach Speed
Epizyme’s recent alliance with Celgene validates industry’s interest in histone methyltransferase inhibitors, a kinase-like class of epigenetic enzymes. Celgene’s willingness to cede US rights in return for access to preclinical assets belies HMTs’ novelty and helps to position Epizyme for potential success as a US-focused oncology company. Despite the strong start, it won’t be easy.
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It’s the 10th anniversary of START-UP’s A-List, an analysis of the year’s Series A life science funding, and a highlight of the year’s most interesting new companies. Deal flow was up this year, as was the average disclosed amount of financing.
With a bulging pipeline, piles of cash, and Big Pharma partners knocking on its doors, Isis believes it is under no pressure to sell its own products. But several factors – including outside pressures and issues intrinsic to Isis’ platform model – are coming into play that may hasten its evolution into an integrated biopharma. And for the first time, Isis management appears open to the possibility.
Epizyme and its partners have moved two programs into the clinic and will start an expansion trial for the DOT1L program later this year. It has also struck deals for companion diagnostics, making steady progress personalized medicine solutions for patients with genetically defined cancers within five years of starting clinical trials. CEO Robert Gould and Exec VP Jason Rhodes take stock of the company’s progress.