GenPath Pharmaceuticals Inc. plans to take aim at cancer and other genetic diseases with $15.5 million it raised in a Series A financing.

The company was founded by Harvard Medical School researchers Ronald DePinho and Lynda Chin. GenPath said its technology also is applicable to cardiovascular disease and metabolic and neurodegenerative disorders.

Interim President and board member Ken Weg, former vice chairman of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York, told BioWorld Today the money should take the company through about 18 months.

"How far the money takes us depends on the progress we make with our validated targets," Weg said, noting that if the Cambridge, Mass.-based company is progressing rapidly and wants to determine if it can make targets druggable, it may need to seek additional funding sooner.

"It all depends on how we're hitting our milestones," he said.

The company has set milestones in three-month increments to track its progress.

"There is a sense of urgency on the part of the institutional investors and private investors," Weg said. "If the science is moving ahead well, I don't see any problem in expanding at our planned rate or even our accelerated rate."

The company has developed a technology platform based on the understanding of different pathways in cancer and how they interact, not just in tumorgenesis, but also in how tumors are maintained and spread.

"The platform is based upon an understanding that there are certain genes and pathways required for the maintenance of tumors," Weg said, and that also could be valuable in understanding drug resistance in tumors.

Another important aspect of the GenPath platform, he said, is that the models and targets it is generating are not based entirely upon cell lines, but also on the activity seen in mammals.

"We're starting off with a limited number of pathways, but as the research and development progresses, we'll be bringing in more people," Weg said.

The company's scientific advisory board includes Tyler Jacks, director of the MIT Cancer Center; Raju Kucherlapati, director of Harvard Partners Center for Genomics and Genetics and co-founder of Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and Abgenix Inc., of Fremont, Calif.; and Richard Klausner, executive director for global health of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and former director of the National Cancer Institute.

The Series A financing was led by MPM Capital LP, of Boston. Other investors were Venrock Associates, of New York; Prospect Venture Partners LP, of Palo Alto, Calif.; Greylock, of Boston; Weg; and A. Grant Heidrich III, a private investor.

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