Arix Bioscience Leads $58 Million Series A into VelosBio, Taking 11.2% Stake
VelosBio raised $58 million in a Series A financing. It was co-led by Arix Bioscience, which committed $11 million, which will give them an 11.2 percent ownership stake, and Sofinnova Ventures. Pappas Ventures and Chiesi Ventures participated, as well as existing investors Takeda Ventures and Decheng Capital.
VelosBio came out of JLABS, Johnson & Johnson’s life science incubator. VelosBio’s headquarters are in San Diego. VelosBio focuses on antibody-drug conjugates, particularly in the oncology area. Arix writes, “Arix has built a diverse oncology portfolio that covers a range of different therapeutic modalities including CAR-T, DNA damage, DNA damage response/synthetic lethality, bi-specific antibodies, and targeted viruses. Arix’s position in oncology is further strengthened by the investment into VelosBio, extending its oncology investments into ADCs.”
ADCs are monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) attached to drugs by chemical linkers. They combine the targeting ability of mAbs with the cancer-killing qualities of cytotoxic drugs. They are designed to be more targeted on cancer cells, while ignoring healthy cells.
The money raised will be used to complete nonclinical development on the company’s lead programs, and to advance them into the clinic.
As part of the financing round, Mark Chin, investment director at Arix, will join VelosBio’s board of directors.
VelosBio’s chief executive officer is Dave Johnson, former chief executive officer of Acerta Pharma. Prior to Acerta, Johnson held positions at Roche, Immunex, which was later acquired by Amgen, Millenium, which was acquired by Takeda, Gloucester, acquired by Celgene, and Calistoga, acquired by Gilead Sciences.
Langdon Miller is VelosBio’s executive vice president of development and chief medical officer. A medical oncologist out of Stanford University, Miller held senior leadership positions at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Pharmacia Corporation, PTC Therapeutics, Calistoga Pharmaceuticals, and Gilead.
“We are delighted with the strong support for the Series A financing from Arix, as well as our existing and new investors,” Johnson stated. “The proceeds from the Series A will enable us to drive VelosBio’s business forward ambitiously as we approach our next stage of growth and development. VelosBio will also be strengthened by Arix’s extensive global networks and deep industry knowledge, and we are pleased to welcome Mark Chin to the board.”
According to Crunchbase, VelosBios had an earlier venture round of $7.7 million on February 9, 2018.
“Cancer emerges through multiple molecular and cellular pathways and accordingly needs to be tackled with multiple therapeutic tools,” stated Joe Anderson, Arix’s chief investment officer. “Our strategy in oncology is to support a diverse portfolio of companies using novel and differentiated approaches to treat cancer and improve patient outcomes. VelosBio is led by an exceptional team developing a novel, high potential approach to the targeted killing of cancer cells. It is great to see such a strong syndicate come together to support the Series A, including leading venture capital groups and our strategic partner Takeda. We look forward to working with the VelosBio leadership team and our co-investors to help accelerate the development of this exciting company.”