Cancer Startup Nuvalent Launches With $50 Million Series A Financing

Cancer Cell_Compressed

Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech Nuvalent has launched with $50 million Series A financing from Deerfield Management, a healthcare investment management firm that has contributed funding to companies across pharmaceuticals, medical device and healthcare information technology.

The Series A financing will help fuel Nuvalent’s research and development efforts for a portfolio of innovative small molecule kinase inhibitors for programs in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The therapeutic agents include a potential best-in-class ROS1-selective inhibitor, NUV-520, and an ALK-selective inhibitor, NUV-655. The molecules were designed using the company’s proprietary discovery efforts.

"Kinase inhibitors remain at the leading edge of targeted therapies for patients with cancer, but the clinical utility of currently available treatments is limited by resistance mutations and off-target effects," said Nuvalent’s Chief Executive Officer James Porter, Ph.D. "At Nuvalent, we are leveraging our expertise in structure-based design to solve for the dual challenges of resistance and selectivity, with the goal of driving deeper and more durable responses for patients living with cancer. We have partnered with leading physician-scientists to understand the limitations of existing cancer therapies that target proven oncogenic kinases and assembled an accomplished team to translate those insights into a novel pipeline of precisely targeted therapies."

The company’s first lead program involving NUV-520 will examine the molecules efficacy in treating advanced NSCLC, particularly cases that have developed resistance to treatment, driven by a ROS1 fusion. The first Phase I/II trial investigating the potential therapy in NSCLC is expected for the second half of this year.

Nuvalent's other lead program involving NUV-655 will study the therapy’s potential efficacy in treating advanced NSCLC tumors driven by an ALK fusion. The first Phase I/II study for this molecule in ALK-positive NSCLC is expected to start in the first half of next year.

"Cancer remains one of the most challenging diseases to treat, with many patients inevitably running out of therapeutic options," noted Cameron Wheeler, Ph.D., Nuvalent’s Chairman of the Board of and a Partner at Deerfield Management. "Nuvalent has assembled a team with leading expertise in structure-based drug design and the deep clinical and development insights needed to address prioritized areas of patient need. Backed by the confidence and experience of an accomplished team of collaborators and advisors, Nuvalent is well-positioned to deliver on its mission of delivering precisely targeted therapy options that bring renewed hope to patients in need."

This marks the biggest news from Deerfield Management since it closed an $840 million Deerfield Healthcare Innovations Fund II aimed at life sciences. Deerfield’s venture capital fund will collaborate with more than 15 academic institutions to fuel novel research in a variety of therapeutic areas.

“Now more than ever, these unprecedented times underscore the importance of supporting the critical work of our nation’s scientists and healthcare systems,” said James E. Flynn, managing partner of Deerfield, in a statement. “Our uniquely supportive model allows us to provide leverage to innovative companies and accelerate the benefit to patients.”

Deerfield is also the sole funder and manager of the Deerfield Foundation, which has committed to invest over $49 million to organizations across the globe that are working to improve healthcare services for underserved children.

The Deerfield Foundation recently committed approximately 10% of its 2020 fiscal budget to be diverted to COVID-19 emergency funding to organizations that require additional healthcare resources.

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