Future watch

Advent Life Sciences announces launch of two new cancer companies

April 22, 2020

Advent Life Sciences has announced the launch of two exciting new cancer companies, PIC Therapeutics Inc and Amphista Therapeutics Ltd, and a major partnership between portfolio company Arrakis Therapeutics Inc and Roche. This continues Advent’s long-running investment and support of early-stage innovative biotechnology companies with a paradigm-shifting approach to the discovery of new medicines.

Since 2006, Advent-backed companies have obtained regulatory approvals for 14 innovative medicines and medical products, reflecting the calibre and commitment of the founding scientists, clinicians and entrepreneurs that Advent has supported.  In that time, the Advent portfolio has achieved over 20 exits.

Advent has now led the close of a $5M Seed investment round in its portfolio company, Boston-based PIC, which focuses on transforming the treatment of cancer though the selective modulation of oncogene translation. PIC was co-founded by Professor Gerhard Wagner of Harvard University and Dr Richard Peters. The company is led by CEO Sun Altbach and Alan Walts, Executive Chairman and Venture Partner at Advent. Belinda Termeer, PIC Board member, also participated in the financing.

Recently two other companies co-founded by Advent announced success stories; Massachusetts-based Arrakis, pioneering the discovery of a new class of small molecule medicines that directly target RNA, and Glasgow-based Amphista, creating first-in-class cancer therapeutics that harness the body’s natural processes to degrade and selectively remove disease-causing proteins.

Amphista, which Advent spun out of the lab of Alessio Ciulli at the University of Dundee, closed a $7.5 million Series A round. Amphista discovers and designs small molecules that act in a different way from conventional PROTACs® and the company’s initial focus is to apply its insights to the design of anti-cancer agents.

Arrakis announced a strategic collaboration and license agreement with Roche in which Arrakis received a $190 million upfront cash payment, with the potential to achieve payments totalling up to multiple billions of dollars, for the discovery of RNA-targeted small molecule drugs against a broad set of targets. Advent founded Arrakis in October 2015 with Jennifer Petter, Advent Venture Partner Alan Walts, and the late Henri Termeer.

Raj Parekh, General Partner at Advent Life Sciences, said:

“Advent has a deep and enduring commitment to founding companies with paradigm-changing approaches. It is a privilege to support the scientists, clinicians and entrepreneurs in our companies as they realise important medical breakthroughs. We look forward to similar success at Amphista, Arrakis and PIC.”

Advent Life Sciences Venture Partner, Arrakis co-founder, and PIC Executive Chairman Alan Walts, commented:

“Since its founding in 2015, Arrakis has established a leadership position in the field of small molecule RNA modulation. We are thrilled to see the recently announced partnership with Roche, which will support Arrakis’ mission of transforming drug discovery. PIC Therapeutics is poised to transform the treatment of cancer and we are excited to partner with the PIC team as a lead investor.”

Advent’s highly experienced and diverse team of 16 investment professionals, all of whom are scientifically or clinically qualified, comprises serial entrepreneurs who have founded numerous companies that have discovered important new medicines for a range of unmet needs. The team takes an active role in both founding and supporting its portfolio companies.

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by Editor