UNC-Chapel Hill spinout secures $33 million investment to advance novel cancer treatments

One of nation’s top universities yields more than 150 startup companies to date, including G1 Therapeutics, creating jobs and advancing innovation and entrepreneurship.

UNC-Chapel Hill spinout secures $33 million investment to advance novel cancer treatments click to enlarge Norman Sharpless, MD

An RTP-based pharmaceutical company with roots at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received $33 million in Series B venture capital funding to develop more effective and less toxic methods to treat patients with cancer. 

G1 Therapeutics (G1), a company based on discoveries made at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, will use the new financing to accelerate clinical development of its lead CDK4/6 inhibitor for antineoplastic and chemoprotection indications.

“G1 Therapeutics’ success reflects Carolina’s mission to spur innovation and entrepreneurship by our faculty and students,” said Judith Cone, the Chancellor’s Special Assistant for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and UNC’s Interim Vice Chancellor for Commercialization and Economic Development. “To date that effort has yielded over 150 startup companies that employ more than 8,000 people in North Carolina.  More than 60 of those companies were – like G1 Therapeutics – created to license technologies developed here at UNC-Chapel Hill.”

The Series B syndicate is led by Eshelman Ventures and RA Capital Management, who are joined by new investors Lumira Capital and Boxer Capital of Tavistock Life Sciences, as well as the company’s existing investors Hatteras Venture Partners, MedImmune Ventures and Mountain Group Capital. Fred Eshelman of Eshelman Ventures and Peter Kolchinsky of RA Capital will join the G1 Board of Directors.

G1 originally began in 2008, then known as G-Zero, with help from Carolina Kickstart, a UNC-Chapel Hill program that works to turn university research into new companies, based on discoveries made by UNC Lineberger Director Norman Sharpless, and Kwok Wong, director of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at Harvard Medical School. In 2012, the company changed its name to G1 Therapeutics, after receiving seed-financing from Hatteras Venture Partners. 

In 2014, the company opened a clinical trial to test the safety of a novel drug that causes certain groups of bone marrow cells to temporarily stop dividing—camouflaging them from chemotherapy. The drug, called G1T28, is currently being tested in healthy volunteers with the next phase of trials in cancer patients expected to begin in 2015.

“G1 Therapeutics’ success reflects the critical role university research plays in economic development,” said Barbara Entwisle, UNC’s Vice Chancellor for Research.  “UNC-Chapel Hill is one of the nation’s top-ranked universities, conducting more than $800 million worth of sponsored research each year.  New companies like G1 are just one example of the way that work pays off for our state.” 

The preliminary research which led to the founding of G1 was supported by the University Cancer Research Fund, a landmark state investment in cancer research at Carolina. Further development of G1 was supported by National Institutes of Health commercialization grants.

Editor’s Note: Information about businesses that have emerged from UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC Research can be found here.

About G1 Therapeutics, Inc.

G1 Therapeutics, Inc. is a privately held clinical-stage pharmaceutical company based in Research Triangle Park, N.C. that focuses on the discovery and development of novel small-molecule therapies to address significant unmet needs in oncology. The company is leveraging its proprietary kinase drug discovery platform to advance a pipeline of first-in-class compounds and best-in-class drug candidates that address two markets: CDK4/6 antineoplastics and protection of the bone marrow from damage by chemotherapy (chemoprotection). The company’s lead program, G1T28, is a highly potent and selective CDK4/6 inhibitor that is currently being evaluated in Phase 1a clinical trials. Visit www.g1therapeutics.com for more information.