JAX spinout Cyteir Therapeutics announces financing round, appointment of Donald F. Corcoran as president
By Joyce Peterson
Cambridge, Mass., and Bar Harbor, Maine – November 5, 2015 – Cyteir Therapeutics, a Cambridge-based biopharmaceutical company, announced today the close of a Series A financing totaling $5.5 million. Cyteir, a spinout of The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), is leveraging its expertise in DNA repair and genome instability to develop new targeted therapeutics for a range of human diseases, including cancer and autoimmune disorders.
The financing round included participation from a syndicate of private investors and Celgene Corporation. In addition, Cyteir Therapeutics obtained an exclusive license to key technologies and patents from JAX.
Cyteir Therapeutics was founded by JAX Associate Professor Kevin Mills, Ph.D., together with Tim Romberger, who led the company as interim CEO through the Series A financing, and JAX Chairman Emeritus David Shaw. The company advances Mills’ pioneering discoveries in the science of genomic instability and DNA repair.
Mills joined The Jackson Laboratory in 2005. In addition to his faculty appointment, he is the Associate Director for Translational Partnerships in the JAX NCI-designated Cancer Center. Mills holds a B.A. in molecular biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a Ph.D. in biology from MIT, after which he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School.
“Kevin's insights are a potential game-changer in treating many cancers,” says oncologist and Jackson Laboratory President and CEO Edison Liu, M.D. “By targeting what he calls ‘genetic co-dependencies’ he has shown that it’s possible to use the mechanisms involved in genetic instability to cause tumor cell self-destruction, without attacking normal cells.”
Cyteir Therapeutics will use the proceeds from the financing to accelerate its current lead program, enhance and diversify its screening platform, and build its pipeline by developing additional new drug candidates.
In parallel with the closing of the Series A financing round, the company announced the appointment of Donald F. Corcoran as President and Chief Executive Officer. He will also join the Board of Directors.
“I am excited at the opportunity to exploit genomic instability and DNA repair mechanisms with Cyteir Therapeutics. It is additionally compelling to know that this area of scientific endeavor was recently recognized with the Nobel Prize in chemistry. Our goal is to expand the boundaries of this science and provide new agents to patients in order to alter human diseases,” said Corcoran.
Corcoran was most recently Chief of Staff and Head of Operations for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals in Waltham, Mass. Prior to AstraZeneca, he was President and Chief Executive officer of MethylGene Inc. a publicly traded development stage biotechnology company focused on small molecule inhibitors of various enzyme targets implicated in cancers including kinases such as c-Met, and epigenetic regulators, histone deacetylases and DNA methyltransferases.
Corcoran has over 30 years’ experience in life science companies with additional leadership and management positions at Hybridon, Inc., Schering Plough Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly and Company. He received an M.B.A. from the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University and a B.A .from Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.