Blaze Bioscience Caps Off $8.5M Financing, Charges Toward Clinic

Xconomy Seattle — 

Seattle-based Blaze Bioscience has gotten a little extra vote of confidence, a little more cash, and a few more smart people to help it move ahead with its new cancer surgery technology.

Blaze, a spinoff from Jim Olson’s lab at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is announcing today it has closed its Series A financing of $8.5 million. That means Blaze has scraped together an extra $3.5 million since an initial fundraising close in June, and that the company has now raised about $9.8 million since its founding in 2010.

The investment group, which includes more than 50 people, is mainly composed of biotech executives, physicians, and wealthy businesspeople, CEO Heather Franklin says.

With the extra money in the bank, Blaze plans to push its lead product candidate, BLZ-100, through toxicology testing and into its first clinical trial before the end of this year, Franklin says. The financing enabled the company to add a couple of key hires with experience at ZymoGenetics and Seattle Genetics, who will help the company take the important next steps in clinical development, and small-scale manufacturing.

Heather Franklin, CEO of Blaze Bioscience

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm out there for supporting an innovative technology, and we’ve gotten really a vote of confidence for this management team that I mostly transferred from ZymoGenetics,” Franklin says. “People are excited for there to be some more biotech going on in town. I really felt that.”

The idea at Blaze Bioscience is to apply a sort of molecular “paint” to tumors to help surgeons distinguish between cancerous and healthy tissues. Currently, there’s no way for a surgeon to see in real time during an operation whether he or she has completely removed a tumor, or whether some troublesome bits of tissue are being left behind to grow and spread.

Physicians, as I described in an October 2011 feature, can use MRI scans after a patient has been sewn up to see what part of the tumor might be lingering. If there is some tumor hanging around, then the doctor has a decision to make about whether to do another surgery, just keep an eye on it, or attack it some other way, like with chemotherapy.

The Blaze product candidate is made up of a genetically engineered peptide that’s supposed to … Next Page »

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