CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom, Sept. 21, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Artios Pharma Ltd., a new private company focussed on developing novel cancer treatments targeting the DNA Damage Response, was officially launched today following a successful fundraise of $33.2 million (£25 million) in a Series A financing from a strong syndicate of leading European and US life science investors led by SV Life Sciences. The investment will be used to build a high value pipeline of first-in-class DDR therapies targeted against cancer and to progress its lead programme, Pol-theta, into the clinic.
DNA Damage Response is a mechanism through which cells repair their damaged DNA. Research has shown that tumours manipulate this ability to repair DNA, allowing them to mutate and evolve. Targeting a tumour's remaining DNA repair mechanisms has been proven, through the recent clinical successes of PARP inhibitors and the launch of Lynparza(TM) (olaparib; AstraZeneca), to cause its selective death, a concept known as "synthetic lethality."
Artios is led by Chief Executive Officer Dr. Niall Martin, who has proven expertise in DDR drug discovery, having previously worked as Director of Drug Discovery at KuDOS Pharmaceuticals (sold to AstraZeneca in January 2006 for $210m) where he established the drug-screening capabilities that underpinned many KuDOS drug discovery programmes in DNA repair. Most notably, Dr. Martin was project leader on KuDOS' PARP inhibitor programme and played a key role in identifying Lynparza(TM) (olaparib) along with other DDR inhibitors. Prior to joining Artios, Dr. Martin was a co-founder and served as Chief Operating Officer at MISSION Therapeutics, a company focussed on researching and drugging the ubiquitin pathways for the treatment of cancers and other diseases.
Artios is actively building a pipeline of highly promising first-in-class DDR therapies identified from a global network of leading researchers in the DDR field. The Company announces today that it has in-licensed two programmes against novel targets, Pol-theta and a second target, as yet undisclosed, from Cancer Research Technology (CRT), the development and commercialisation arm of Cancer Research UK. Both programmes are in the drug discovery phase, and represent exciting opportunities to modulate the DNA repair processes in certain tumours leading to synthetic lethality.
In addition, Artios also announces today that it has entered into a research collaboration with CRT, to further access its world-class research on DDR targets in drug discovery. Under the terms of the agreement, Artios will work with CRT to discover and develop drugs against several new DDR targets over the next few years.
Commenting on the launch of Artios Pharma, Dr. Niall Martin, Chief Executive Officer, said: "Targeting the DNA Damage Response is an exciting and promising field of biology with growing interest following the recent success of PARP inhibitors. DDR drug products have the potential to become established first-line treatments, either as single agents or for use in combination with many currently approved therapies. It is an ideal time for Artios to be entering the field as a DDR focussed, independent biotech company and we are delighted to welcome our world-class investors to the Company and to announce our first partnership with Cancer Research Technology."
On behalf of the investors, Kate Bingham, Managing Partner at SV Life Sciences said: "Artios represents a unique opportunity to build a world-class DDR pipeline through partnerships with leading DNA repair researchers in the UK and worldwide. We are delighted with the strong investor interest in Artios, reflecting the potential of DDR. I am pleased to say that this is one of the most sought after and over-subscribed investment opportunities we have recently put together."
Dr. Keith Blundy, CRT's Chief Executive Officer, said: "We are pleased to have worked with SV Life Sciences to bring together the Cancer Research UK academic network, a portfolio of leading DNA damage response opportunities and the CRT Discovery Laboratories' drug discovery platform to help build a strong development pipeline for Artios. This exciting development has enabled us to leverage the expertise of the Artios management team and financing from leading venture companies to help establish a company that has the potential to bring real impact to cancer patients."
For more information about Artios Pharma Ltd., please contact:
Artios Pharma Ltd
Dr. Niall Martin, Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Nick Staples, Chief Business Officer
Tel: +44 (0)12 2380 4180
Consilium Strategic Communications
Mary-Jane Elliott, Lindsey Neville, Melissa Gardiner
Tel: +44 (0)20 3709 5700
About Artios Pharma Ltd.
Artios is a leading independent DNA Damage Response (DDR) company focussed on developing first-in-class treatments for cancer. Established in May 2016, the Company is led by an experienced scientific and leadership team with proven expertise in DDR drug discovery. Artios is building a pipeline of next-generation DDR programmes, including through a unique partnership with Cancer Research Technology (CRT), the development and commercialisation arm of Cancer Research UK (CRUK), and with leading DNA repair researchers worldwide. The Company's investors include SV Life Sciences, Merck Ventures, Imperial Innovations, Arix Bioscience PLC, CRT Pioneer Fund (managed by Sixth Element Capital), and AbbVie Ventures. Artios is based at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, UK.
About DNA Damage Response (DDR)
DNA Damage occurs in cells throughout the body every day. To counteract the harmful effects that DNA damage can cause, the human body possesses a network of DNA repair pathways, which act to correct the damage. This process is known as the DNA Damage Response (DDR). Defects in the body's DDR can lead to an increased risk of cancer. Human cells have multiple DNA repair pathways, but in cancer cells, some of these pathways are lost, which result in genetic instability. Changes to DNA repair pathways can also drive the growth of tumours. By inhibiting DDR in cancer cells that have impaired repair pathways, scientists can selectively kill cancerous cells. DDR inhibitors, therefore, have the potential to act as: single agents that selectively kill tumour cells through synthetic lethality; adjunctive therapy to overcome resistance to current cytotoxics, and potentiating agents to radiotherapy and novel therapies including immune-oncology treatments.
Source:Artios Pharma Ltd.