A new cancer treatment company is challenging the notion that what cancer patients eat has little material effect on the disease and, instead, can be a powerful tool in its treatment. With this approach in mind, cancer metabolism company Faeth Therapeutics announced on Thursday that it closed a Series A private equity round that raised $47 million to fund clinical trials that will combine nutrient control, therapeutics, and digital tools to inhibit cancer metabolism.
The financing round, led by SG2 Ventures, brings the total funding of the company to date to $67 million. Seed round co-lead investors Khosla Ventures and Future Ventures also participated in the Series A, along with additional support from Digitalis, KdT Ventures, AgFunder, and Cantos.
“We believe Faeth has an unprecedented opportunity to introduce a completely new way of treating cancer by overcoming the chronically misguided advice given to patients for 100 or more years—that diet is irrelevant in treating cancer,” said Anand Parikh, CEO and co-founder of Faeth in a press release. “Like neurological, endocrine, metabolic, and autoimmune diseases, cancer can be treated through diet, but until now, scientific research into cancer nutrition patterns has lacked in-depth mechanistic understanding, contributing to potentially harmful advice for cancer patients.”
Faeth’s lead lead candidate is an isoform-selective PI3Kα inhibitor, Serabelisb, entering Phase Ib/II clinical trials this year. With the $20 million in seed funding raised earlier this year, Faeth is also be expanding its team to further develop its MetabOS preclinical discovery platform and patient-facing software. The company has now moved to first-in-human clinical trials for pancreatic, colon, endometrial, and ovarian cancers.
The company was formed last year via the merging of three separate research teams with the straightforward premise that controlling metabolism through a combination of drugs and nutrient availability can beat cancer. Founding scientists of the company include:
- Lew Cantley, former director of the Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and now a professor at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute;
- Greg Hannon, director of the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Cambridge Institute;
- Karen Vousden, chief scientist at CRUK;
- Scott Lowe, chair of cancer biology and genetics at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; and
- Sid Mukherjee, a Pulitzer Prize-winning oncologist and professor at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
Three separate research papers published in Nature form the core principals of Faeth that controlling nutrients can help enhance the efficacy of current cancer treatments. According to Parikh, the company has the potential to add a nutrition as a fourth pillar of cancer treatment, joining surgery, drugs, and radiotherapy.
Preclinical studies in organoid and mouse models have shown encouraging results that precise control of molecules, including amino acids and sugar, can reduce tumor size and suppress growth to a similar extent as standard-of-care chemotherapies. Further, combining nutrient control with drugs is significantly more efficacious than either intervention alone. The Faeth’s approach comprises precisely targeted nutrient control, therapeutics, and digital tools to support both the patient and clinician.
“Cancer treatments have greatly evolved over the past decade, but the nutritional advice given to cancer patients, who are often simply told to keep their weight up, hasn’t changed,” said S2G chief investment officer and managing director Sanjeev Krishnan, who joined Faeth Therapeutics’ board. “The right nutrients are as important to survival as the right intervention, whether that’s surgery or a therapeutic. Faeth has the data to support that targeted nutrient control can reprogram tumor metabolism to deprive it of the nutrients it needs to grow and resist treatment.”