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From lab to lifesaver: Women-led biotech scores $7.5M to fight cancer and brain diseases

PharmEnable founders
Photo credits: PharmEnable

Based in Cambridge, PharmEnable, a women-led drug discovery company focused on chemical novelty, diversity, and complexity, has secured $7.5 million in pre-Series A funding.

The investment round was led by MP Healthcare Venture Management (MPH), the venture arm of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Group, with additional participation from existing investors, including Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialization arm of the University of Cambridge, the University of Cambridge Enterprise Fund VIII (managed by Parkwalk Advisors), Heyford Trust, o2h Ventures (which backed CardiaTec Biosciences and Oxford Drug Design), Martlet Capital, Arrowfield Capital, Wren Capital, and experienced angel investors in the life sciences sector, including Jonathan Milner.

The funds will be used to advance and expand PharmEnable’s portfolio of wholly owned and co-discovery projects targeting oncology and neurology, as well as to support research and development. The focus will be on developing the next generation of small molecule drugs for disease areas with high clinical demand.

Dr. Jeffrey Moore, a board director of PharmEnable representing new investor MP Healthcare, said, “MPH is committed to supporting next-generation products and technologies that increase treatment options for patients with significant unmet medical needs. While we explore novel treatment modalities such as biotherapeutics, nucleic acid medicines, and cell therapies, we recognize the clear benefits that small molecules can offer.”

Appointment of new board members

In addition to the investment, PharmEnable has appointed Dr. Jeffrey Moore as a board director, representing MP Healthcare. Dr. Keith Blundy has replaced Dr. Christine Martin as an investor director on behalf of Cambridge Enterprise. Both of these executives bring significant experience in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.

Dr. Hannah Sore, CEO of PharmEnable, said, “I am delighted that MP Healthcare has led our pre-Series A round to enable our mission of delivering life-changing medicines to patients in need. I am pleased to welcome the highly experienced Dr. Jeffrey Moore and Dr. Keith Blundy to our board and look forward to working with our team, board, and investors to develop novel therapeutics for the most challenging disease areas, ultimately making a difference in patients’ lives.”

Next-generation drug development for cancer and other diseases

PharmEnable was founded by Hannah Sore, Jelena Aleksic, and Natalia Mateu in 2016 in Cambridge. The biotech startup focuses on developing innovative small molecule drugs with a strong emphasis on novelty, diversity, and three-dimensionality. By combining advanced medicinal chemistry expertise with cutting-edge AI/computational methods, PharmEnable aims to create novel therapeutics for diseases with high clinical demand.

The female-led company’s proprietary drug discovery platform enables the generation of unique chemical entities that target challenging disease targets. PharmEnable’s approach involves modeling drug targets, identifying key molecular interactions, and expanding the chemical space to modulate specific targets. They prioritize the synthesis of complex, three-dimensional small molecules to enhance specificity and minimize off-target effects.

PharmEnable’s ultimate goal is to replicate the specificity of biologics through powerful and scalable small molecules. With the next-generation drugs, the company aims to treat cancer and neurological disorders, where achieving drug specificity is particularly challenging.

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