Frontier Medicines launches $67M startup to develop novel medicines that target "undruggable" diseases

June 26, 2019

Daniel Nomura

Co-founders Chris Varma, Daniel Nomura and Roberto Zonco (photos: courtesy Frontier Medicines and UC Berkeley)

Frontier Medicines has announced the launch of a new startup to actively develop medical treatments for currently "undruggable" diseases.

The company has been co-founded by Chris Varma; Daniel Nomura, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology, and Nutrional Sciences and Toxicology; and Roberto Zonco, Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology.

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 1,762,000 new cancer cases and approximately 607,000 deaths from cancer are expected to occur in the US in 2019. However, even after decades of research, the majority of known cancer-causing proteins are still considered "undruggable," or inaccessible for therapeutic intervention. This reality has become one of the most critical challenges in advancing oncology therapy and is central to the research at Frontier Medicines.

"Our therapeutic programs are focused on several of the most important and difficult targets in cancer," said Chris Varma, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Frontier Medicines. "With our platform, we have the ability to address previously inaccessible disease-causing proteins. While we are taking on a considerable challenge, we believe this approach will have a tremendous impact on transforming patients' lives for the better, which is our ultimate goal."

Frontier Medicines is using chemoproteomics – an innovative approach to chemically interrogate proteins in living systems – to discover and pharmacologically target new binding pockets (or "hotspots") on proteins, making them accessible to small-molecule drug discovery and development. The company's proprietary chemoproteomics platform also integrates advanced computational approaches and machine learning to further accelerate the path to drug discovery.

"Our platform currently includes a database of hotspots that cover a majority of human proteins, including those that were previously considered 'undruggable;' an expanding library of diverse, covalent compounds being driven by machine learning; and a novel approach to protein degradation," said Daniel K. Nomura, Ph.D., co-founder of Frontier Medicines. "This platform enables us to go after almost any protein target of interest for therapeutic intervention."

Further information is available here>