Avenzo Closes $150M Oversubscribed Series A-1 to Advance Cancer Therapies

Cancer therapeutics collage_Nicole Bean

Pictured: A cancer therapeutics collage/Nicole Bean for BioSpace 

San Diego-based Avenzo Therapeutics on Tuesday announced that it has closed a $150 million oversubscribed Series A-1 funding round, which the biotech will use to develop novel oncology therapeutics.

Tuesday’s haul brings Avenzo’s total capital raised to $347 million since it was founded in August 2022, according to the company. The Series A-1 was led by New Enterprise Associates, Deep Track Capital, Sofinnova Investments and Sands Capital. New backers include Quan Capita, Delos Capital and TF Capital.

Avenzo CEO Athena Countouriotis in a statement said that the company has “made great progress” in its aim to “advance the next generation of oncology therapies for patients,” including its lead program AVZ-021, a potentially best-in-class CDK2 selective inhibitor.

According to Avenzo’s website, most FDA-approved inhibitors target the CDK4/6 axis, which in turn helps prevent the abnormal cell proliferation central to cancers. However, most patients develop resistance to CDK4/6 inhibitors through the hyperactivation of the CDK2 pathway. AVZ-021 works by blocking this cascade, which when used with CDK4/6 inhibitors could overcome such resistances and induce durable treatment responses.

AVZ-021 was originally developed by the Boston- and China-based Allorion Therapeutics, which demonstrated in pre-clinical studies that the candidate selectively targeted CDK2 over CDK1, which is otherwise a driver of treatment toxicity. In January 2024, Avenzo paid $40 million upfront in an exclusive licensing deal with Allorion, which also includes an option for an additional preclinical program.

Avenzo also pledged more than $1 billion in development, regulatory and commercial milestones, plus tiered royalties, for both programs.

In collaboration with Allorion, Avenzo is running a Phase I/II study to evaluate AVZ-021 in patients with HR+/HER2- metastatic breast cancer and other advanced solid tumors.

The first part of the study is a dose-escalation phase to evaluate the safety and tolerability of the candidate, as well as determine a recommended Phase II dose. The partners will then test AVZ-021 in a Phase II dose-expansion study to evaluate the antitumor activity of the candidate. The trial is currently recruiting in the U.S.

“We are in a strong position to advance our potentially best-in-class CDK2 inhibitor, AVZO-021, expand our pipeline with additional assets, and continue to grow our team,” Countouriotis said.

With its oversubscribed Series-A1, Avenzo follows in the footsteps of other San Diego biotechs that have recently reported sizable funding hauls. Last week, Capstan Therapeutics announced that it had closed a $175 million Series B funding round to develop its in vivo CAR-T cell therapy candidate. Mirador Therapeutics also launched last week, securing $400 million in funds to advance inflammatory and fibrotic disease programs.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Reach out to him on LinkedIn or email him at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.

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