21 December 2017
Arix Bioscience co-leads $30 million financing for Aura Biosciences
Funding to advance development of Aura’s novel treatment to selectively destroy cancer cells; lead candidate AU-011 currently in Phase 1b/2 study to treat ocular melanoma, an orphan indication
LONDON, 21 December 2017: Arix Bioscience plc (LSE: ARIX) (“Arix Bioscience”), a global healthcare and life science company supporting medical innovation, today announces that it has co-led a $30 million Series C financing round for Aura Biosciences (“Aura”). Aura is developing a new class of therapies to selectively destroy cancer cells. Its lead candidate is targeting ocular melanoma, a rare and aggressive eye cancer that can lead to loss of vision and potentially fatal metastasis.
The $30 million fundraising was co-led by Arix Bioscience and Lundbeckfonden Ventures, and included existing investors Advent Life Sciences, Chiesi Ventures, Ysios Capital, Alexandria Venture Investments, Columbus Venture Partners, LI-COR Biosciences and several individual investors, including the estate of Henri Termeer.
Arix Bioscience has invested and committed a total of $5 million for an equity stake in Aura. In addition, Arix Bioscience’s Mark Chin will join Aura’s Board of Directors.
Aura’s lead therapeutic candidate, AU-011, is a first-in-class therapy which consists of viral nanoparticle conjugates that bind selectively to unique receptors on cancer cells in the eye. Upon activation with an ophthalmic laser, the drug rapidly and specifically disrupts the membranes of tumour cells while sparing key eye structures, potentially preserving a patients’ vision and reducing other long-term safety complications from existing standard of care. Because this therapy does not require a surgical procedure and can be delivered in an ophthalmologist’s office, ocular melanomas can be treated earlier with the potential for reducing the likelihood of metastasis to the liver, where it is nearly always fatal.
AU-011 is currently being investigated in a Phase 1b/2 clinical study for treatment of small-medium ocular (choroidal) melanoma. Interim results of the study, presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting in November 2017, demonstrated good safety and tolerability and evidence of early biological activity for this novel therapy.
AU-011 has been granted Orphan Drug and Fast Track Designation by the U.S. FDA. Beyond the lead indication of ocular melanoma, Aura is advancing this approach in a variety of other cancers, including bladder and head and neck, where there is a high medical need for better locally-targeted therapies that can eliminate the co-morbidities of surgery and radiotherapy.
“We are pleased to have co-led this successful financing round for Aura Biosciences. Aura’s first-in-class approach could result in earlier and better-targeted therapies for ocular melanoma and other cancers, potentially saving lives, improving patient outcomes and avoiding the risks associated with surgery and radiotherapy. We look forward to supporting Aura in developing these potentially life-changing treatments for patients and creating value for our shareholders.”
Joe AndersonChief Executive Officer of Arix Bioscience
For more information, please contact:
Arix Bioscience plc
Joe Anderson, CEO
+44 (0)20 7290 1052
Matthew Cole, Communications Director
+44 (0)20 7290 1065
Consilium Strategic Communications
Mary-Jane Elliott, Jessica Hodgson, Ivar Milligan
+44 (0)20 3709 5700
About Arix Bioscience plc
Arix Bioscience plc is a global healthcare and life science company supporting medical innovation. Headquartered in London and with an office in New York, Arix Bioscience sources, finances and builds world class healthcare and life science businesses addressing medical innovation at all stages of development. Operations are supported by privileged access to breakthrough academic science and strategic relationships with leading research accelerators and global pharmaceutical companies.
Arix Bioscience plc is listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange.
For further information, please visit www.arixbioscience.com
About Aura Biosciences
Aura Biosciences is developing a new class of therapies to selectively target and destroy cancer cells. Its lead program, AU-011 in ocular melanoma, is being developed under a CRADA with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health. For more information, visit www.aurabiosciences.com.
About light-activated AU-011
AU-011 is a first-in-class targeted therapy in development for the primary treatment of ocular melanoma. The therapy consists of viral nanoparticle conjugates that bind selectively to unique receptors on cancer cells in the eye and is derived from technology originally pioneered by Dr. John Schiller of the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), recipient of the 2017 Lasker-DeBakey Award. Upon activation with an ophthalmic laser, the drug rapidly and specifically disrupts the membranes of tumour cells while sparing key eye structures, which may allow for the potential of preserving patients’ vision and reducing other long-term complications of treatment. This therapy can be delivered using equipment commonly found in the ophthalmologist’s office and does not require a surgical procedure, pointing to a potentially less invasive, more convenient therapy for patients and physicians. AU-011 for ocular melanoma has been granted orphan drug and fast track designations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is currently in clinical development.
About ocular melanoma
Ocular melanoma, also known as uveal or choroidal melanoma, is a rare and aggressive eye cancer. Ocular melanoma is the most common primary ocular tumour and develops in the uveal tract of the eye. No targeted therapies are available at present, and current radiotherapy treatments can be associated with severe visual loss and other long-term sequelae such as dry eye, glaucoma, cataracts and radiation retinopathy. The most common current treatment is plaque radiotherapy, which involves surgical placement of a radiation device against the exterior of the eye over the tumour. This technique can control the melanoma but can also lead to radiation-related cataract, retinopathy, optic nerve damage and loss of vision. The alternative is enucleation, or removal of the eye. Ocular melanoma metastasizes to the liver in about 40 percent of cases in the long-term (source: OMF), and only 15 percent of patients whose melanoma has metastasized survive beyond five years after diagnosis (source: ACS).