October 30, 2013

BIOWorld Today

Series D to Boost Calithera Cancer Compound into Phase I


A new Series D financing round worth $35 million will support Calithera Biosciences Inc.’s Phase I study of its cancer candidate, CB-839.  The compound is designed to block cancer cell growth through inhibition of glutaminase. In preclinical studies, Calithera showed potent and selective activity of CB-839 against multiple tumor types.

Calithera CEO Susan Molineaux told BioWorld Today that glutaminase is a “compelling target” and that Calithera is one of the first companies to move a compound targeted to glutaminase into the clinic. “It looks like it has potential for broad utility,” she said.

According to Molineaux, it has been known for about a half century that some types of cancer cells are dependent on glutamine uptake and metabolism for their survival. Normal  cells also use glutamine, but they are not dependent on it.

Calithera developed CB-839 in-house through its medicinal chemistry efforts. Its preclinical studies show antiproliferative activity in a range of tumor types, including triple-negative breast cancer, multiple myeloma, non-small-cell lung cancer, mesothelioma and other solid and hematological tumors.

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By Catherine Shaffer