BioPharma

Prelude Therapeutics raises $60M in Series B round for solid tumor, blood cancer drug

The company is developing a PRMT5 inhibitor, currently in a Phase I study for lymphomas, myeloid malignancies and solid tumors.

A company developing small-molecule targeted therapies for treating cancers has raised its latest round of venture capital.

Wilmington, Delaware-based Prelude Therapeutics said Wednesday that it had raised $60 million in a Series B funding round. The company said its two investors co-led the investment, including OrbiMed Advisors.

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The company plans to use the money to advance its lead product candidate, PRT543, through clinical proof-of-concept studies. The drug is in a Phase I study at three centers for solid tumors, myeloid malignancies and lymphomas. According to the trial’s page on the ClinicalTrials.gov database, the 100-patient study is enrolling patients with relapsed or refractory advanced solid tumors, along with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma, myelodysplasia and myelofibrosis. The latter two diseases are blood cancers that can lead to leukemia.

PRT543 is a PRMT5 inhibitor, and the company has an additional, but undisclosed drug candidate in preclinical testing with the same target, along with other undisclosed targets in blood cancers, according to its pipeline page. PRMT5 plays an important role in several cellular processes that drive cancer cell proliferation, cell cycle progression and resistance to apoptosis in blood cancers and solid tumors, according to the company.

We believe PRMT5 inhibitors represent a promising new class of drugs to treat cancers, including ones that have developed resistance to existing targeted therapies,Prelude CEO Kris Vaddi said in a statement. Vaddi founded the company in 2016, having previously been part of the founding team of Incyte Corp. He played a key role in the research at Incyte that led to the company’s two JAK inhibitors, Jakafi (ruxolitinib) for myelofibrosis and polycythemia vera, and Olumiant (baricitinib) for rheumatoid arthritis.

Other groups have explored PRMT5 as a drug target in oncology as well. In April, a team of Chinese researchers in Shanghai and Qingdao published a paper in the journal Theranostics showing that their PRMT5 inhibitor, DW14800, was able to inhibit liver cancer cells. And this month, two researchers at Prelude published a review of PRMT5 inhibitors, including two in development by GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson.

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