Drug discovery and development company Mission Therapeutics has received another substantial investment from Pfizer’s VC arm, Pfizer Ventures. The British biotech company has been backed by Pfizer since 2013, primarily because of its novel work in selectively inhibiting deubiquitylating enzymes (DUBs).
Pfizer sees DUBs as potential drug targets. The family of proteases helps facilitate waste disposal in cells, and are favorable targets for small-molecule drug discovery. The full role these proteins play in diseases has yet to be elucidated, but it’s clear they have at least a small part in certain cancers and neurological disorders, where they are often overexpressed. Their highly visible active site makes them relatively easy to work with, but researchers concede they frequently generate false positives. Pfizer hopes their continued commitment to Mission will lead to new discoveries in the field.
Pfizer headed up a $15 million round this week, boosting Mission to just over $100 million of funding to date. Mission is just under a decade old, but has seen contributions from some pretty big names. Sofinnova Partners, Roche Venture Fund and AbbVie have all added to their pot. Pfizer first contributed to their $32 million Series B round, as protein degradation investment has been a hot ticket item in the biotech world, due to its potential versatility.
Their evaluation and option agreement gives Pfizer access to specific DUB inhibitors from Mission’s platform. Pfizer will then be able to carry out its phenotypic testing to validate whether or not the drug target could be considered promising. Mission’s updated technologies strive to test early for false positives, to eliminate them and increase efficiency as soon as possible.
On the extension of the relationship between the two companies, Dr. Denis Patrick, Managing Partner of Pfizer Ventures and member of Mission’s Board of Directors noted: “Since our initial investment in Mission seven years ago, the company has grown tremendously and the depth of its scientific expertise and capability has grown alongside it. We are proud to expand our relationship with the company and our scientists are looking forward to a successful collaboration in this important area of research.”