ROME Therapeutics Launches to Develop Novel Therapies for Cancer and Autoimmune Diseases by Harnessi
$50 Million Series A Financing Led by GV and ARCH Venture Partners with Participation from Partners Innovation Fund
Initial Targets Identified and Multiple Programs Advancing as ROME Opens Uncharted Genomic Regions to Drug Discovery
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – April 27, 2020 – ROME Therapeutics, a biotechnology company harnessing the power of the repeatome in drug development, launched today with $50 million in Series A funding from GV, ARCH Venture Partners and Partners Innovation Fund. ROME was founded to discover and develop novel therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases by leveraging new insights from the vast uncharted territory of the repeatome – the roughly 60% of the human genome consisting of repetitive sequences of nucleic acids, known as repeats. Drawing on deep expertise in oncology, virology, immunology and machine learning, the ROME team has identified several promising drug targets and launched multiple discovery programs.
The overwhelming majority of industry drug discovery programs target the roughly 2% of the human genome which encodes for proteins. Repeats have long been dismissed as “junk DNA.” However, recent discoveries at this frontier of biology have made it clear that the repeatome is a rich and complex ecosystem. Among other elements, it contains the remnants of ancient viruses which have integrated into the human genome over time. In addition to being vital for embryonic development, these viral-like strands of genetic material are activated in times of stress and may play a significant role in driving diseases such as cancer, as malignant cells co-opt the repeats to facilitate their own survival and growth. These insights are the foundation of ROME’s pioneering work to discover and develop repeatome-based therapeutics.
ROME is led by CEO, President and Co-founder Rosana Kapeller, M.D., Ph.D., who incubated the company during her tenure as an entrepreneur-in-residence at GV, where she is currently a Fellow. In her previous role as founding Chief Scientific Officer at Nimbus Therapeutics, Dr. Kapeller led the company’s initiative to apply advanced computational technologies to the design and development of novel therapeutics. Notably, she led discovery and development of a new class of acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) inhibitors for NASH, later acquired by Gilead Sciences.
“At ROME, we have set out a bold goal: To drive even the most difficult-to-treat cancers and autoimmune diseases into sustained remission,” Dr. Kapeller said. “Too many patients do not benefit from today’s therapies, or experience only a partial response that quickly fades. We believe the repeatome holds the key to longer-lasting interventions. Our scientific founders together with our team have made excellent progress in exploring this uncharted territory and identifying promising therapeutic paths. With the support of our outstanding investors and advisors, we’re moving quickly to advance our therapeutic programs.”
“By targeting this uncharted territory, ROME has the potential to open up huge new stretches of the genome for drug discovery,” said Kristina Burow, Managing Director, ARCH Venture Partners and a member of ROME’s Board of Directors. “We are thrilled to be working alongside the ROME team as they seek to develop novel therapies for intractable cancers and autoimmune diseases.”
“Rosana has brought together some of the best minds in oncology, immunology, virology and machine learning to create a novel approach to harnessing the power of the repeatome,” said Krishna Yeshwant, M.D., General Partner at GV and a member of ROME’s Board of Directors. “We believe that ROME has the insights and expertise to turn cutting-edge discoveries in this field into an important new class of medicines, and we’re proud to continue working with Rosana and her team as they drive their programs forward.”