RTW Venture backs Artios Pharma – RTW Venture says it participated in Artios Pharma’s $153m series C funding round. The oversubscribed financing was co-led by Omega Funds and TCG X. Additional investors include Avidity Partners, Invus, Deep Track Capital, Sofinnova Partners, Tetragon Financial Group, Soleus Capital, Piper Heartland Healthcare Capital, CaaS Capital Management, and Schroders Capital. These new investors 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 who also continue to support Artios through their participation.
Artios is a UK-based privately held oncology company using its DNA Damage Response (DDR) platform to develop first-in-class treatments for cancer. The company is led by an experienced scientific and leadership team with proven expertise in DDR drug discovery, including the discovery and early development of the PARP inhibitor Olaparib.
Artios has a unique partnership with Cancer Research UK (CRUK), and collaborations with leading DNA repair researchers worldwide, such as The Institute of Cancer Research, London, the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) and the Crick Institute, London. It is building a pipeline of next-generation DDR programs to target hard to treat cancers, including its ATR inhibitor ART0380 in treating DDR defective tumors, which is in a Phase 1 clinical study, and the potential first in-class Polθ inhibitor ART4215 for monotherapy and combination treatments.
In December 2020, Artios entered into a collaboration agreement with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany to identify and develop precision oncology medicines targeting nucleases. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany has the right to opt into exclusive development and commercialisation of compounds on up to eight targets with Artios to receive up to US$860m total milestones per target. In April 2021, Artios entered into a collaboration with Novartis to identify DDR targets to use with Novartis’ proprietary radioligand therapies with Artios receiving a US$20m up-front payment in addition to near term research funding to support the collaboration. Artios is eligible to receive up to $1.3bn in discovery, development, regulatory and sales-based milestones in addition to royalty payments. Artios is based at the Babraham Research Campus in Cambridge, UK, with an office in New York City, USA.
Artios intends to use the proceeds from this financing round to expand its potentially best-in-class ATR inhibitor and first-in-class highly selective DNA polymerase theta (Polθ) inhibitor programs by enabling clinical development in multiple tumor settings and biological backgrounds of single agent and combination therapies. The inhibition of novel DNA repair targets, like Polθ, in tumors where DNA damage response factors have been lost or down regulated will lead to cancer cells being selectively destroyed without harming normal cells. This creates an opportunity for such products to be used with existing and future therapies to kill cancer.
When Artios published preclinical data on its small molecule Polθ inhibitor in June 2021, Professor Chris Lord, Professor of Cancer Genomics at The Institute of Cancer Research, London and study co-leader, said: “Polθ is an ideal DNA damage response drug target as it is tumor specific, overexpressed in many tumors and found at low levels in healthy tissues. These results show that Polθ inhibitors exhibited exquisite selectivity and on-target activity, affecting only Polθ-Mediated End Joining and not other forms of DNA repair. This specificity, combined with demonstrated synthetic lethality with BRCA mutations, as well as synergy with a PARP inhibitor, suggest small molecule Polθ inhibition has broad utility for targeted clinical development in genetic backgrounds that are reliant on Polθ activity. I look forward to seeing how Polθ inhibitors perform in clinical trials and hope they will be able to benefit patients by opening up a new way of overcoming drug resistance.”