Money on the Move: July 21 – 27, 2021
A quick overview of life science companies scooping up some summer spending money this week.
With big-dollar collab partners like Novartis and Germany’s Merck KGaA, Artios added another $153 million to the bank in a Series C round. The Cambridge-based company is targeting the DNA Damage Response (DDR) pathway to attack various cancers. In February, ART0380, an ATR inhibitor licensed from MD Anderson Cancer Center, began its first clinical study enrolling patients with advanced or metastatic solid tumors. Another lead program inhibits Polθ expression, upregulated in multiple tumor types, including breast, ovarian, HNSCC, and lung cancers. The program has a goal of first-in-human studies to start this year.
A fresh $80 million from a Series D raise will help Turnstone propel its pipeline of oncolytic virus and TIL therapy candidates. Its lead oncolytic virus candidate is in a dose escalation Phase 1/2a study with Takeda Pharmaceutical in solid tumors. Turnstone’s vaccinia virus platform enhances immune stimulation and tumor cell selectivity with flexible delivery of either intravenous or directly into the tumor. Its lead TIL candidate is expected in the clinic by early next year.
Cambridge-based Vedanta scored a $68 million Series D, which included a $25 million investment from Pfizer. Funds will push its lead candidate, VE303, through a Phase 3 trial in Clostridioides difficile infection and a Phase 2 trial in inflammatory bowel disease. Its pipeline of defined bacterial consortia will also advance programs in additional indications. Candidate VE800 is in development for the treatment of advanced and metastatic tumors, with a Phase 1 in combination with Bristol Myers Squibb’s Opdivo in a study nearing completion.
Spun-out from AstraZeneca in 2018, Aristea is developing immunology therapies to treat serious inflammatory orphan diseases. With this week’s $63 million Series B, the biotech is advancing its lead oral CXCR2 antagonist through the clinic and building out its leadership team. Results from a Phase 2a trial of the drug in palmoplantar pustulosis are anticipated in 2022, while a Phase 2b study will launch later this year to expand indications to include familial Mediterranean fever and Behcet’s disease. Arista will collaborate with Arena Pharmaceuticals to advance its drug, a deal with an option to acquire later.
Swedish T-cell immunotherapy leader Anocca scooped up $47 million to advance its cellular biology platform while pushing its pipeline of TCR-T cell therapies into Phase 1/2a trials. The platform replicates human T-cell biology in the laboratory to create therapies with oncology, infectious diseases and autoimmune indications. Its current pipeline includes cancer antigens down to the level of individual mutations in specific individual tumors.
Signifier Medical Technologies
In February, Signifier scored approval of the first-ever daytime treatment for mild sleep apnea and snoring. eXciteOSA is clinically proven to improve the quality of sleep when used for just 20 minutes a day for 6 weeks, then twice a week thereafter. Funds from this week’s $35 million Series D round will go into the commercialization process for the device.
Operating in stealth mode since 2012, Slingshot’s first suite of synthetic cell products was launched last year. The biotech has now closed on a $23 million Series A to support the commercialization of its products comprising adoptive, controls and diagnostic cell therapies. “By eliminating supply chain and technical constraints for cell-derived products, we aim to fundamentally improve the accessibility of key healthcare technologies that have historically been limited to specific markets and indications,” said CEO Jeffrey Kim.