Mission Bay Capital invests in UCSF cancer therapy spinoff

Mission Bay Capital, LLC (MBC), the seed venture fund managed by QB3, has invested in the UCSF spinoff company Calithera as part of a $40 million Series A round of venture financing secured by the company.

Calithera is developing molecular therapeutics to control cancer and other diseases arising from uncontrolled cell growth. Calithera’s technology, caspase activation, is licensed from the laboratory of Jim Wells, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry in the UCSF School of Pharmacy and a member of QB3.

Caspases are enzymes that carry out programmed cell death, a process that cancer cells are able to bypass. Wells’s laboratory has discovered several compounds that convert caspases from an initial inactive form into enzymes that kill cancer cells.

The financing was led by Morgenthaler Ventures, with MBC, US Venture Partners, Advanced Technology Ventures, and Delphi Ventures taking part.

“This is one of the largest first rounds of financing in some time,” said Douglas Crawford, a managing partner of MBC and QB3’s associate executive director. “It is a testament to the excitement that we all feel for Jim’s work. We are proud to be working with Jim, Susan Molineaux [CEO, Calithera], Chris Christoffersen [chairman of the board, Morgenthaler Ventures] and the other investors to help launch this terrific company.”

This is MBC’s second investment. In April of this year, the fund backed Redwood Biosciences, a biotech company based on the research of UC Berkeley’s Carolyn Bertozzi, Ph.D.

About Mission Bay Capital, LLC

Mission Bay Capital, LLC, is an independent, seed-stage venture firm focused on making pivotal, early-stage investments in bioscience companies emerging from the University of California. Founded in August 2009, Mission Bay Capital combines the rich knowledge and navigation skills of QB3 executives – Regis Kelly and Douglas Crawford – with the experience and proven success of a renowned pro bono investment advisory committee led by Brook Byers and John Wadsworth. Mission Bay Capital is fueling breakthrough bioscience technologies to meet society’s challenges while also helping to boost the California economy.