Artios Pharma secures £110m Series C financing to progress its cancer-killing DDR platform
Artios Pharma’s expertise in the burgeoning field of DNA damage response (DDR) has helped it secure £110million in Series C financing.
The oversubscribed round, confirmed yesterday (Tuesday), was co-led by Omega Funds and TCG X and Artios said it “clears the runway” for the launch of its first-in-human studies in the second half of 2021.
The financing follows a £65million Series B fundraise, completed in August 2018, and means the company has now raised more £232m.
Babraham Research Campus-based Artios is focused on developing first-in-class treatments for cancer and is led by the team that discovered olaparib (Lynparza), which was the first PARP inhibitor to be approved.
DDR describes the processes involved in cells sensing, signalling and repairing DNA damage, which occurs naturally all the time.
The development of cancer cells is dependent on DDR being misregulated or dampened. But this puts additional dependency on the remaining processes of DNA repair, meaning cancer cells with defective DDR are susceptible to targeted DNA repair inhibitors.
Artios uses its platform to exploit this weakness, developing novel inhibitors of specific DNA repair targets, like Polθ, to target tumours where DNA damage response factors have been lost or down regulated. This selectively destroys the cancer cells, without harming normal cells.
The financing will support the expansion of what is potentially a best-in-class ATR inhibitor and Artios’ first-in-class highly selective Polθ inhibitor programs. It will fund clinical development in multiple tumour settings and biological backgrounds of both single agent and combination therapies..
Artios CEO Dr Niall Martin said: “We are thrilled to have such great investors support our vision in this latest Series C fundraise co-led by Omega Funds and TCG X alongside a premier group of new and existing investors.
“This is an exciting time for Artios as we continue to progress our potential best-in-class ATR program in the clinic and prepare to launch our Polθ program into first-in-human studies in the second half of 2021.
“By ensuring that our DDR platform and pipeline programs are well-funded, we have successfully cleared a runway to execute our near-term clinical objectives.
“Having this calibre of strategic investors supporting our mission to bring next-generation DDR programs targeting hard to treat cancers to market adds further validation to Artios’ cancer-killing DDR platform.”
Additional investors include Avidity Partners, Invus, Deep Track Capital, Sofinnova Partners, Tetragon Financial Group, RTW Investments LP, Soleus Capital, Piper Heartland Healthcare Capital, CaaS Capital Management, and Schroders Capital.
They join existing investors Arix Bioscience plc, SV Health Investors, Andera Partners, LSP (Life Sciences Partners), M Ventures, Pfizer Ventures, IP Group plc, and Novartis Venture Fund.
Michelle Doig, partner, head of corporate development at Omega Funds, and Chen Yu, founding managing partner of TCG X, will join Artios’ board.
Ms Doig said: “Artios’ deep expertise in DNA damage response and novel approach to drive the search for new and better cancer treatments is an ideal match for Omega Funds. Supporting Artios in its mission to advance its portfolio of best-in-class and first-in-class small molecule DDR programs, including its DNA polymerase theta (Polθ) inhibitor, which is poised to enter the clinic, is a welcome addition to our portfolio of life science investments targeting our world's most urgent medical needs.”
Dr Yu added: “Artios’ DDR programs have been validated by large pharma partnerships which speak to the promise of their science and strategy. Artios’ first-in-class platform for developing novel DDR drugs, including their targeted novel Polθinhibitor with synergies with PARP inhibitors, provides a new potential mode of targeted cancer treatment in identified DDR-defective tumor populations. By investing in this financing round we are creating multiple avenues of value creation for our funds’ investors.”
In December 2020, Artios struck a precision cancer drug deal with Merck KGaAm worth up to a potential $6.9bn.
It followed this in April 2021 with a global research collaboration with Novartis worth a potential $1.3bn.
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