Pheon Raises $120M in Series B to Advance ADCs for Hard-to-Treat Cancers

Antibody Drug Conjugate with Cytotoxic Payload

Pictured: 3D illustration of antibody-drug conjugates with their toxic payloads/iStock, Love Employee

Pheon Therapeutics closed a Series B financing round on Tuesday, raising $120 million to ride the industry’s growing wave of investment in antibody-drug conjugates.

The London-based biotech will use the Series B funds to push its “differentiated pipeline” of antibody-drug conjugates (ADC) through clinical proof-of-concept studies. Pheon CEO Cyrus Mozayeni in a statement said that the funding is “critical” to the company as it transitions “into a clinical-stage company.”

“The proceeds will fund a robust clinical development pathway for our first three ADC assets, which are based on an exceptional novel target” Mozayeni said. Pheon has not yet revealed what the target is, only announcing that it is highly expressed in various solid tumors.

Pheon’s cancer platform aims to “extend the benefit of ADCs to more patients” by going after novel targets and using proprietary payloads designed to overcome treatment resistance against existing cancer therapies, according to the biotech’s website. The company’s ADCs are designed to work via new mechanisms of action and can be tailored to a specific target and indication, Pheon contends.

The biotech’s lead program, which carries a DAR8 topoisomerase-1 inhibitor payload, is scheduled to enter Phase I studies in 2024, with plans to move “rapidly” to dose-expansion cohorts, according to Pheon.

In addition to advancing its pipeline, the Series B earnings will also help Pheon expand its in-house suite of technologies for producing optimized ADCs.

Tuesday’s funding round was led by healthcare investment firm TCGX, with participation from existing supporters such as Atlas Venture, Forbion and Brandon Capital. Pheon also secured new backers including Lightspeed, Perceptive Advisors and BVF Partners.

Pheon joins biopharma’s growing interest and investment in ADCs. A March 2024 report from the market analytics firm Evaluate predicted that the ADC space will grow to nearly $30 billion by 2028, bolstered by a string of recent high-value deals.

In March 2023 Pfizer dropped a record-breaking $43 billion to acquire ADC frontrunner Seagen, gaining access to its portfolio of FDA-approved therapies and robust pipeline of ADC candidates. Other pharma powerhouses have followed suit including J&J, which in January 2024 bought Ambrx for $2 billion, and Roche, which pumped $1 billion into a next-generation ADC alliance with Chinese biotech MediLink Therapeutics.

Last month, Los Angeles-based startup TORL BioTherapeutics jumped into the ADC space with a $158 million Series B-2 funding round.

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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