Anaveon, a new Immuno-Oncology company, announces CHF 35 million Series A financing
Basel, February 26, 2019 – Anaveon, an immuno-oncology company, today announced completion of a CHF 35 million Series A financing led by Syncona Ltd and joined by the Novartis Venture Fund. Martin Murphy and Dominic Schmidt from Syncona and Florian Muellershausen from Novartis Venture Fund have joined Anaveon’s Board of Directors. The financing supports the development of selective Interleukin 2 (“IL-2”) Receptor Agonists.
Anaveon was founded in December 2017 by leading experts in the field of immunotherapy, Onur Boyman, Professor and Chair in the Department of Immunology at the University of Zurich and a recognised IL-2 biology expert, and Andreas Katopodis, previously Director at the Autoimmunity, Transplantation & Inflammation Group at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. Anaveon was founded with initial seed capital from the UZH Life Sciences Fund which will convert in the Series A financing and additional funding from BaseLaunch, a healthcare accelerator operated by BaselArea.swiss.
The company is developing a selective IL-2 Receptor Agonist, a type of protein that could therapeutically enhance a patient’s immune system to respond to tumours. In the body, human IL-2 stimulates a type of immune cell, called a T-cell, to multiply and become activated. Under certain situations, T-cells are able to attack tumours and, consistent with this, human IL-2 is already approved as a medicine for the treatment of metastatic melanoma and renal cancer.
Anaveon’s product is designed to overcome known challenges with human IL-2. These include severe, dose-limiting side effects and a short half-life that requires frequent infusions. This type of drug, if approved, could potentially have a wide utility in oncology, including in combination with cell therapies, vaccines, checkpoint inhibitors and radiotherapy.
Andreas Katopodis, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Anaveon, said: “Based on the pioneering work of Onur Boyman, who was the first to demonstrate re-direction of IL-2 activity in vivo, Anaveon has developed biologic approaches for the highly selective expansion of anti-tumour immune cells. Our compounds act as adjuvants to increase anti-tumour immune responses. Pre-clinical evidence shows they have marked efficacy in a variety of tumour models either as mono- or as combination- therapy. We are very excited to partner with two leading life science supporters to bring our compounds into the clinic and demonstrate benefit to patients.”
Martin Murphy, Chief Executive of Syncona Investment Management Limited, said: “Our commitment to Anaveon is a great example of our strategy to seek to build truly innovative companies anchored by exceptional science and experienced teams. Anaveon has a strong strategic fit across Syncona’s cell therapy portfolio and we are excited by the potential to develop a best-in-class product in the IL2 space. The Syncona team will work in close partnership with the company’s world-leading founders to develop its business plan and clinical pathway.”
Anja Koenig, Global Head of the Novartis Venture Fund and a board member at the UZH Life Sciences Fund, commented: “Such a strong Series A financing, by an international syndicate, of a company spun out of the University of Zurich was for me personally a great validation of the principles behind the UZH spinout fund to support Swiss innovation.”
Anaveon AG Andreas Katopodis
Tel: +41 (0) 79 730 87 17
JW Communications Julia Wilson
Tel: +44 (0)7818 430877
Syncona Ltd Annabel Clay
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7611 2031
Anaveon is a pre-clinical phase start-up based in Switzerland that develops biologics to modulate the function of cytokines and provide substantial therapeutic benefit to cancer patients. Our vision is to develop novel immune therapies benefiting patients suffering from a wide variety of diseases with immune pathology.
Syncona is a leading FTSE250 healthcare company focused on founding, building and funding global leaders in life science. Our vision is to deliver transformational treatments to patients in truly innovative areas of healthcare while generating superior returns for shareholders.
We seek to partner with the best, brightest and most ambitious minds in science to build globally competitive businesses.
We take a long-term view, underpinned by a deep pool of capital, and are established leaders in gene and cell therapy. We focus on delivering dramatic efficacy for patients in areas of high unmet need.
About Novartis Venture Fund:
Novartis Venture Fund is a financially driven corporate life science venture fund whose purpose is to foster innovation, drive significant patient benefit and generate superior returns by creating and investing in innovative life science companies at various stages of their development. For more information, go to: www.nvfund.com.
About UZH Life Sciences Fund:
UZH Life Sciences Fund AG (UZH LSF) invests in life sciences spin-offs from the University of Zurich (UZH) which are in an early stage of development. This accelerates the transfer of research results from the UZH into practice. UZH LSF is a funding instrument of the UZH Foundation established jointly with the Novartis Venture Fund in 2016. For more information, go to: https://www.uzhfoundation.ch/en/where-to-donate/uzh-life-sciences-fund.
About the BaseLaunch Accelerator:
BaseLaunch is operated by BaselArea.swiss, the agency for economic and innovation promotion of the region of Basel, Switzerland. The accelerator supports and derisks promising healthcare start-ups and embeds them deeply into the Basel biopharma ecosystem. The companies benefit from funding, access to pharma partners, know-how from experts and fully equipped lab space