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DNA damage specialists Artios Pharma raises $84m

Team behind development of Lynparza focus on next-gen DDR inhibitors

artios

Cambridge, UK-based Artios Pharma has raised $84 million (£65 million) in a series B financing.

The company’s management team are experts in the DNA damage response (DDR) field and were involved in developing olaparib, the first DDR inhibitor, now on its way to becoming a blockbuster for AstraZenca as Lynparza.

Artios’ chief executive Niall Martin and chief scientific officer Graeme Smith were part of the KuDOS Pharmaceuticals team which was sold to AstraZeneca in 2005 for £120m, and decided to set up their new DDR-focused company three years ago.

They are now developing a pipeline of first-in-class DDR therapies targeting novel DNA repair targets like Polθ, in tumours where DNA damage response factors have been lost or down regulated.

While many were initially sceptical about the clinical and commercial potential of the first generation DDR drugs, the PARP inhibitor class which Lynparza belongs to, their growing commercial success means confidence in Artios’ next-generation targets has also grown.

The new financing was led by Andera Partners (formerly EdRIP) and LSP (Life Sciences Partners), with participation by other new investors Pfizer Ventures and Novartis Venture Fund (NVF). Artios’ existing shareholders Arix Bioscience, SV Health Investors, M Ventures, IP Group and AbbVie Ventures also participated in the fundraising.

Commenting on the announcement, Raphael Wisniewski, Partner of Andera Partners, said: “We believe Artios’ DDR programmes have the potential to bring real impact to cancer patients. DDR is an exciting field of biology, which has been clinically validated by the first generation PARP inhibitors currently on the market. The new funds will allow Artios to advance its portfolio of first-in-class, small molecule DDR programmes including its lead programme targeting DNA polymerase theta (Polθ), through clinical proof of concept trials. We are delighted to work with the management team in building a world class DDR targeted oncology company.”

Niall Martin

Niall Martin, Chief Executive of Artios, added: “We are delighted to welcome Andera Partners, LSP, Pfizer Ventures and Novartis Venture Fund to Artios and I would like to thank our existing investors for their continued support, which will help us develop and deliver our exciting DDR targeted therapies to cancer patients. This investor syndicate creates a very strong and committed shareholder base with a track record of supporting successful next generation companies. The oversubscribed Series B fundraise is a strong endorsement of our world-leading development pipeline and reflects the opportunity for DDR to yield new breakthrough oncology products.”

The company says it aims to initiate a first-in-human clinical study of its DNA polymerase theta (Polθ) candidate in 2019/20.

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

10th August 2018

From: Research

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