Macrocycle Drug Discovery Company Circle Pharma Raises $45 Million

By Dan Anderson ● March 19, 2020
  • Circle Pharma, a macrocycle drug discovery and development company, announced it raised $45 million in Series B funding

Circle Pharma — a macrocycle drug discovery and development company — announced it raised $45 million in Series B funding. This round of funding was led by The Column Group with participation by Nextech Invest through its Nextech VI Oncology SCSP fund. And all investors from the prior round ShangPharma, LifeForce Capital, and the Berkeley Catalyst Fund also participated.

In connection with the funding round, The Column Group founder and managing partner Peter Svennilson and Nextech Invest partner Thilo Schroeder, Ph.D. were appointed to the board. And John Josey, Ph.D. (formerly President and CEO of Peloton Therapeutics) was appointed to the board as Chairman.

The proceeds from the funding round will be used to advance Circle’s work to develop inhibitors of Cyclin A and Cyclin E and to expand the company’s pipeline.

“We are delighted to have these premier life science investors supporting our Series B financing” said Circle’s President and CEO David J. Earp, J.D., Ph.D. “With this strong backing, we will expand our team, drive our cyclin targeted programs towards the clinic, and apply our macrocycle platform to additional intractable targets.”

Svennilson was the chairman of Aragon Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Johnson & Johnson) and Seragon Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Roche / Genentech). And he is currently the chairman of ORIC Pharmaceuticals, and a board director at Gritstone Oncology, NGM Biopharmaceuticals, Immune Design and Constellation Pharmaceuticals.

Shroeder is a Zurich-based oncology-focused investment firm. And he previously served on the board of Peloton Therapeutics (acquired by Merck) and Blueprint Medicines. Plus he is currently a board director at ImaginAb, IDEAYA Biosciences, Revolution Medicine and PMV Pharmaceuticals and a board observer at Black Diamond Therapeutics.

Josey served as the President, Chief Executive Officer, and member of the Board of Directors at Peloton Therapeutics from 2013 until its acquisition by Merck in 2019. Between 2011 and 2013, he was President and Chief Scientific Officer at Peloton and from 1998 to 2011, Vice President of Discovery Chemistry at Array Pharma.

The continuing members of Circle’s board of directors are Walter Moos, Ph.D. (CEO of ShangPharma Innovation and Managing Director of Pandect Bioventures), Matthew Jacobson, Ph.D. (Circle Pharma co-founder, chair of the department of pharmaceutical chemistry at U.C. San Francisco and also co-founder of Global Blood Therapeutics, Relay Therapeutics, and Cedilla Therapeutics), and David Earp, J.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Circle Pharma.

Circle Pharma is developing a new paradigm for macrocycle drug discovery based on rational design and synthetic chemistry. And Circle’s technology facilitates the design and synthesis of intrinsically cell-permeable macrocycles that can address both intra- and extra-cellular therapeutic targets and can be delivered by oral administration. Plus Circle’s macrocycle development platform is applicable across a wide range of serious diseases; the company is initially focusing its development efforts on intracellular protein-protein interactions that are key drivers in cancer. And its lead program targets cyclins A and E, which are part of the regulatory machinery that controls the progression of cells through the cell growth and division cycle. Inhibiting cyclins A and E has been shown to be synthetically lethal in cancers that carry mutations causing dysregulation of the Rb pathway.