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Flexus Biosciences, a Cancer Immunotherapy Company Focused on Agents for the Reversal of Tumor Immunosuppression (ARTIS), Announces $38M Financing

Financing Led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, The Column Group and Celgene

Company Brings Together Global Experts in Regulatory T-Cell Biology and Proven Leadership Team

SAN CARLOS, Calif., Dec. 17, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Flexus Biosciences, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of small-molecule cancer immunotherapies targeting regulatory T cells, announced today the closing of a Series B financing from blue-chip investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), The Column Group (TCG) and Celgene, bringing their total funds raised to date to $38M. Flexus has assembled a world-class drug discovery team and a Clinical and Scientific Advisory Board that is at the forefront of understanding regulatory T cell biology and its impact on cancer. Numerous studies have implicated regulatory T cells as key mediators in the creation of an immunosuppressed microenvironment that enables tumors to escape attack by the host immune system. These observations underlie the concept of creating medicines that affect regulatory T cell function, so-called Agents for the Reversal of Tumor Immunosuppression (ARTIS), in order to reverse this tumor-tolerant environment. The company is led by industry veterans Terry Rosen, Ph.D., CEO; Juan Jaen, Ph.D., President and Head of R&D; Yujiro Hata, M.B.A., Chief Operating Officer; Jordan Fridman, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer; Jay Powers, Ph.D., Vice President, Drug Discovery; and Steve Young, Ph.D., Vice President, Technology.

Coincident with the close of the Series B financing, David Goeddel, Ph.D., Managing Partner at TCG, joined the Company's Board of Directors, which includes Beth Seidenberg, M.D., General Partner at KPCB and formerly Chief Medical Officer at Amgen, and William Rieflin, CEO of NGM Biopharmaceuticals. Dr. Goeddel, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, was the first scientist hired by Genentech, and his pioneering work was the basis for five marketed therapeutics developed by Genentech. "We are excited to welcome Dave to our Board and delighted by the support of TCG," said Dr. Seidenberg, Chairperson of the Flexus Board of Directors. "The company is now well positioned to advance its pipeline of immunotherapies and to select a clinical candidate from its IDO-1 inhibitor program in early 2015." Flexus was incubated by KPCB and closed its Series A financing in October of 2013.

Flexus also announced today that it has appointed Alexander Rudensky, Ph.D. (Chairman of the Immunology Program and Director of the Ludwig Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) as Chairman of its Clinical and Scientific Advisory Board (CSAB). Dr. Rudensky, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, has elucidated key aspects of the function of the transcription factor FoxP3 in regulatory T cells and the critical role of these cells in immune homeostasis. As Chairman of the Flexus CSAB, Dr. Rudensky joins other world leaders in the field of regulatory T-cell biology and the clinical study of cancer immunotherapies, including Jeff Bluestone, Ph.D. (Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, Professor in the School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco), Holbrook Kohrt, M.D., Ph.D. (Assistant Professor of Medicine, Oncology, Stanford Cancer Institute), David Lacey, M.D. (former Sr. Vice President of Discovery Research, Amgen), and Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D. (Professor of Medicine, Surgery, and Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, University of California, Los Angeles).

"Immune-targeted therapies are already impacting the lives of patients afflicted by a growing number of cancer types. Modulation of tumor-infiltrating regulatory T cells represents a promising unexploited therapeutic approach, creating the opportunity to complement, and work in combination with, the growing list of immune checkpoint inhibitors and other non-immunological therapeutic modalities," said Dr. Rudensky, Chairman of Flexus's CSAB.

About Flexus Biosciences

Founded in 2013, Flexus is a biotechnology company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of small-molecule cancer immunotherapies targeting regulatory T cells. The company is leveraging unexploited insights in immunology to discover Agents for Reversal of Tumor Immunosuppression (ARTIS). This disruptive approach to cancer therapy targets that which is common to all tumors, the host immune system.

Flexus, located in San Carlos, CA, has raised $38M in funding from blue-chip investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), The Column Group (TCG), and Celgene. Flexus has assembled a management and R&D leadership team with a proven track record of success and an advisory group and team of scientists with unparalleled knowledge and expertise in drug discovery and translational sciences essential to execution of the ARTIS approach. For more information, please visit www.flexusbio.com.

CONTACT: Yujiro Hata, Flexus Chief Operating Officer, yhata@flexusbio.com

Source: Flexus Biosciences