Mitotix Inc., a company developing cell cycle therapeutics, announcedThursday the completion of a $12.35 million private placement.Mitotix was established in 1992 with $8.5 million in financing fromGreylock Management Corp., J.H. Whitney, Venrock Associates, MayfieldFund, Robertson Stephens & Co., and Weiss Peck & Greer, all ofwhich participated in this round, Alison Taunton-Rigby, the company'spresident and CEO, told BioWorld.New investors were Highland Capital Partners, Advent InternationalCorp., CIT Group/Venture Capital Inc., and North Bridge Venture PartnersL.P. Taunton-Rigby said the funding would take the Cambridge, Mass.,company "well into 1996." But she said Mitotix is expecting othersources of revenue to come in before then."We have some active discussions with some potential corporatecollaborators," she said. "It should happen this year or early nextyear, and almost certainly involve some sort of combination of equityinvestment, research and development funding or milestone payments."Mitotix has development programs in the areas of kinase inhibitors,phosphatase inhibitors and intracellular proteolysis. The companyhas one issued patent and 18 patent applications that focus mainlyon proteins, genes and assays involving cell cycle regulatory molecules."This is a very unique set of technologies," said Taunton-Rigby,who previously was senior vice president at Genzyme Corp. "For thefirst time we have an understanding of how cells are regulated asthey divide, and very importantly we understand how this regulationhas been changed in cancer cells. Understanding what has been alteredin cancer cells allow us to identify targets for pharmaceuticalproduct development."What's fundamentally exciting about this field," she said, "is we'veknown for a long time there is a genetic basis for cancer. Now we'rebeginning to understand that the mutations that contribute to causingcancer are often mutations in the regulatory proteins that controlthe cell cycle. When you understand the molecular biology of adisease, you can come up with very good ideas on how to developeffective drugs."Cancer drugs that exist today are just toxic chemicals found byrandom screening. They're not particularly effective and they have alot of side effects. We now have a chance of changing all of them."Taunton-Rigby said the area of oncogenes, tumor suppresser proteinsand cell cycles intersect, and that's where Mitotix comes in."I think we have a really good understanding of how to put ittogether," she said. "Many oncogenes are cell cycle regulatoryproteins. Many cell cycle regulatory proteins are enzymes that acton tumor suppresser proteins. So all the pieces of the jigsawpuzzle of understanding the molecular basis of cancer are beginningto fall in place."Mitotix has cloned a phosphatase from human cells and also frompathogenic organisms that cause opportunistic infections, Taunton-Rigbysaid. The company has identified initial active compounds thatinhibit the human enzyme and also active compounds that inhibitthe enzyme in pathogens.The company, in its intracellular proteolysis program, also hasidentified active inhibitors, Taunton-Rigby said, but has not yetidentified active compounds to take forward in the kinase inhibitorprogram. The company was founded by cell cycle researchers DavidBeach, of Cold Spring Harbor, an independent research foundation inNew York, who is now on the company's scientific board; and GiulioDraetta, previously with the European Molecular Biology Labs inGermany, who is Mitotix's vice president of research. n
-- Jim Shrine
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