With the help of venture capitalists, Forty Seven Inc., an immuno-oncology startup from Stanford University was launched to win the fight against cancer. Venture Capitalists have invested $75 million to the California-based company, which produces the drugs needed to trigger the immune system into joining the battle against the deadly disease.
The beginning of Forty Seven is the end result of all the work exerted by many scientists over the years, headed by Stanford researcher and Forty Seven’s co-founder Irving Weissman. Forty Seven will also be using the funds to further experiment on the company’s drugs with other medications, complete ongoing clinical trials and conduct additional trials this 2016.
Merck & Co.’s Keytruda and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s Opdivo are some of the drugs that other pharmaceutical companies are betting on to cripple any tumor’s defenses which saves them from the immune system attack. They both zero in on the molecule PD-1, to release the brake on the immune system’s T-cells.
Forty Seven has another plan to keep cells on their defense. What their drug does is hinders a “don’t eat me” signal that comes from a molecule on the tumor labeled CD47. Once that signal is obstructed, then the immune system’s macrophages will be able to consume the tumors, which could also trigger a T-cell assault.
This is the very reason that prompted Sutter Hill Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners with the participation of GV, previously known as Google Ventures, and Clarus Ventures to initiate a Series A financing round for the startup. The investment coming from these companies is considered to be one of the biggest gambles that venture companies have put on immuno-oncology, which in turn vows to produce treatments for a wide scope of both liquid and solid tumors.
According to Jeff Bird, Managing Director of Sutter Hills, Forty Seven has already obtained intellectual property – as well as other molecules – from Stanford, giving it an edge over the other immuno-oncology firms also in their early stages.