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Scorpion, seeking to develop ‘precision medicine’ drugs for cancer, debuts with $108m in funding

The Boston Globe logo The Boston Globe 10/26/2020 Anissa Gardizy
a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Gary Glick is chief executive of Scorpion Therapeutics. © Courtesy of Scorpion Therapeutics Gary Glick is chief executive of Scorpion Therapeutics.

Scorpion Therapeutics is the latest biotech to debut in Boston, with $108 million in venture capital and a roster of local industry veterans.

The startup is focused on targeted oncology, or “precision medicine” for cancer, and will be headed by Gary Glick, who comes most recently from Boston-based IFM Therapeutics. There, he brought three immunotherapy drugs to clinical trials in three years, closing big pharmaceutical deals for their rights with Bristol Myers Squibb and Novartis.

“Precision medicine is one of the hottest areas in biotechnology and biopharma . . . and what Scorpion is doing that is different from the other biotech companies is really the breadth that we are going after,” he said. “We are ultimately looking at building a leading pipeline of drugs that we want to take forward into commercialization.”

Scorpion is the fourth biotech started by Glick. He previously cofounded IFM, Lycera, and First Wave Bio.

Scorpion will look to treat known molecular targets for cancer that have been previously dismissed as “undruggable,” hoping to create a line of new medicines. It will also work on a set of “best-in-class” medicines that will exploit the vulnerabilities of existing cancer therapies, aiming to spare healthy tissue and limit their side effects for cancer patients.

Glick said Scorpion has drugs in its pre-clinical pipeline, but he declined to provide details on how many or a timeline for their development. He said the company is developing oral pills.

The founding team includes Keith Flaherty, who cofounded Loxo Oncology, which was acquired by Eli Lilly in 2019 for $8 billion; Gaddy Getz, who runs the Cancer Genome Computational Analysis Group at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; and Liron Bar-Peled, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Cancer Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The Scorpion team has been working out of an incubator space in the Seaport District since June, but Glick said the company will move to a permanent headquarters in Boston early next year. The biotech will also have a cancer biology lab in San Francisco and an office for general administration and finance work in New York.

“We are taking advantage of the best hubs for talent,” Glick said of the company, which has over 30 employees and hopes to double in size by the end of 2021.

Scorpion’s first funding round was led by Atlas Venture, Omega Funds, and Vida Ventures, with participation from Abingworth and Partners HealthCare Innovation. Glick said investors were drawn to Scorpion’s founders, experienced management team, and long-term vision.

“We are not looking to make a company with one or two medicines and then sell," he said. “We have a broad, long-term vision to change the landscape of targeted oncology.”

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