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Aura Biosciences

Aura Biosciences Completes $30 Million Series C Financing

By Aura Biosciences, Press Release, Publicly Listed
Press Release.

 

December 21, 2017

Lead candidate, light-activated AU-011, currently being investigated in Phase 1b/2 study to treat ocular melanoma, an orphan indication

Funding to support ongoing clinical development, enabling buildout of company infrastructure and GMP manufacturing

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Aura Biosciences, a biotechnology company developing a new class of therapies to target and selectively destroy cancer cells using viral nanoparticle conjugates, announced today that it closed a $30 million Series C financing. New investors Lundbeckfonden Ventures and Arix Bioscience plc led the round, with all current investors also participating. Existing investors include 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.

With interim positive data released at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) 2017 Annual Meeting in November for its Phase 1b/2 clinical trial for light-activated AU-011, the company plans to use proceeds from this round of financing to expand infrastructure supporting ongoing clinical development. Aura intends to continue enrolling patients who have early-stage ocular melanoma in its Phase 1b/2 study of AU-011, the first targeted therapy ever to be developed for the primary treatment of this rare and life-threatening eye cancer. This novel therapy has the potential to selectively destroy cancer cells in the eye while preserving vision. Aura is also expanding in 2018 its footprint in Cambridge, Mass., with the addition of new employees, space and equipment.

“This year has been one of incredible momentum for Aura, with interim positive data reported from our Phase 1b/2 study of AU-011 and enthusiasm from key opinion leaders in ocular oncology across the country,”

said Elisabet de los Pinos, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Aura.

“We are pleased to enter 2018 with the renewed support of existing investors and to welcome Lundbeckfonden Ventures and Arix Bioscience to our Series C syndicate. We look forward this year to laying the groundwork for Phase 3 clinical development, furthering our commitment to enabling earlier treatment intervention for patients with ocular melanoma.”

“The Aura team has proven nimble while retaining a strong scientific rigor as it has made the transition to a clinical-stage company,”

said Casper Breum, Senior Partner at Lundbeckfonden Ventures.

“We believe that this timely investment will propel the company’s preparations for late-stage studies of AU-011, with the potential to provide a safe and effective therapy where plaque radiation or enucleation are the only options currently,”

said Mark Chin, Investment Director at Arix Bioscience.

With the close of this financing, Breum and Chin will join Alan Walts, Ph.D., Joël Jean-Mairet, Ph.D., Dale Pfost, Ph.D., Arthur Pappas and Dr. de los Pinos as members of Aura’s Board of Directors.

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 tumor 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 tumor. 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).

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 patented viral nanoparticle conjugates with IR-700DX dye molecules that are activated with an ophthalmic laser. The viral nanoparticles bind selectively to unique receptors on cancer cells in the eye and are 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. The IR-700DX dye molecules are produced by LI-COR Biosciences and are licensed exclusively to Aura for treating ocular cancers.  Upon activation with an ophthalmic laser, the drug rapidly and specifically disrupts the membranes of tumor 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 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 Lundbeckfonden

VenturesLundbeckfonden Ventures is a part of the asset management subsidiary of The Lundbeck Foundation, which in addition to substantial financial assets, has controlling ownerships in H. Lundbeck A/S, ALK-Abelló A/S and Falck A/S. Lundbeckfonden Ventures has an evergreen structure and invests around $60 million annually in life science companies. The Lundbeckfonden Ventures team is located in Copenhagen, Denmark, and is active in both Europe and USA.

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 Advent Life Sciences

Advent Life Sciences is one of Europe’s leading venture teams investing in life sciences businesses. The team consists of professionals with extensive scientific, medical and operational experience, and a long-standing track record of entrepreneurial and investment success across the UK, Europe and the US. The firm invests in a range of sectors within life sciences, principally in new drug discovery, enabling technologies and med tech. Realizations in the last three years include Algeta, Avila, CN Creative, EUSA and Micromet. Current investments include Acutus, Biocartis, Cellnovo, f2G, NeRRe, and Versartis. For more information, please visit www.adventls.com.

About Chiesi Ventures

Chiesi Ventures is a venture capital firm focused on the area of rare and orphan disorders. Our goal is to complement the strategic interest of the Chiesi Group by investing in early stage development opportunities. Chiesi Ventures also aim to accelerate the expansion of the Chiesi network in the US among universities, venture capital investors, rare disease patient organizations and entrepreneurial companies developing treatments for rare diseases. For more information, please visit www.chiesiventures.com.

About Ysios Capital

Ysios Capital is a leading Spanish venture capital firm that provides private equity financing to early- and mid-stage human healthcare and life science companies with a special focus on pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and medical devices. Founded in 2008, Ysios Capital has €118 million in assets under management distributed over two funds. The second fund has a target size of €100 million and will remain open to new investors until September 2015. For further information see www.ysioscapital.com.

About Alexandria Venture Investments

Alexandria Venture Investments is the strategic venture capital arm of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. (NYSE: ARE). Founded in 1994, Alexandria is the largest and leading investment-grade real estate investment trust (REIT) focused principally on owning, operating, and developing high-quality, sustainable real estate for the broad and diverse life science and technology industries. In 1996, Alexandria founded Alexandria Venture Investments to actively invest at the cutting edge of novel, breakthrough discoveries in biopharmaceuticals, diagnostics, research tools, medical devices, digital health, and technology. Alexandria is uniquely positioned to fund life science and advanced technology companies based on its experience and in-depth understanding of these industries, its long-term relationships with leading investors, and its world-class international scientific advisory network. For more information, please visit www.are.com.

About LI-COR Biosciences

LI-COR Biosciences is a leading manufacturer of near-infrared and chemiluminescence imaging platforms, analysis software, and IRDye® infrared dye reagents for drug discovery, life science research, and pre-clinical imaging. Founded in 1971, the privately held company is based in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Media Contact

Lynnea Olivarez, 956-330-1917
Ten Bridge Communications
lynnea@tenbridgecommunications.com

Aura Biosciences Secures $8 Million in Additional Funding

By Aura Biosciences, Press Release, Publicly Listed
Press Release.

 

Aura Biosciences Secures $8 Million in Additional Funding and Augments Board of Directors and Clinical Advisory Board

September 29, 2016

Proceeds will support clinical development of the company’s lead program in ocular melanoma

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Aura Biosciences, a biotechnology company developing a new class of therapies to target and selectively destroy cancer cells using viral nanoparticle conjugates, announced today that it secured an additional $8 million round of funding. The company also announced the addition of Henri Termeer, former CEO of Genzyme and major Aura investor, to its Board of Directors, and welcomed key new Clinical Advisory Board (CAB) members, all distinguished ocular oncologists.

The round of financing consisted of expanded funding commitments from its existing investors:  Advent Partners, Chiesi Ventures, Ysios Capital, Alexandria Venture Investments and several individual investors, including Termeer. Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance to the clinic Aura’s lead program in ocular melanoma (OM), AU-011, which is the first targeted therapy ever to be developed for the primary treatment of this rare and life-threatening disease. AU-011 has been granted orphan drug designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is expected to enter clinical testing early next year.

“Since the closing of our Series B financing over a year ago, we’ve made significant strides toward our ultimate goal of creating a safe and effective therapy that selectively eliminates cancer cells early in the OM disease course, while preserving vision for these patients,”

said Elisabet de los Pinos, founder and CEO of Aura Biosciences.

“With the continued support of our investors, experienced clinical advisors and Board of Directors, we are moving AU-011 rapidly toward the clinic, while additionally advancing our preclinical programs in other indications where Aura’s approach of selective tumor targeting could revolutionize treatment for patients with rare cancers who have no other treatment options.”

To help guide the company’s clinical program, Aura has also expanded its CAB with two new members who are recognized world leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with OM and other ocular cancers:

  • Jay S. Duker, M.D., Director of the New England Eye Center and Professor and Chairman of the department of ophthalmology at Tufts Medical Center and the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston
  • Brian Marr, M.D., Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Weill-Cornell Medical School, and Associate Attending and key member of the ophthalmic oncology service, department of surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Founding members of Aura’s CAB, which was formed last year, are world-renowned ocular oncology specialists Carol Shields, M.D., Evangelos Gragoudas, M.D., and Arun Singh, M.D. José Baselga, M.D., Ph.D., Physician-in-Chief and Chief Medical Officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, is the Chairman of Aura’s CAB. Additional members include Miguel Burnier, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., Richard Carvajal, M.D., and Richard Peters, M.D., Ph.D.

About Aura Biosciences

Aura Biosciences is developing a new class of therapies to target and selectively destroy tumor cells. Its lead program in ocular melanoma, developed under a CRADA with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), has been granted orphan drug status by the US Food and Drug Administration. For more information, visit www.aurabiosciences.com.

Media Contact

Ann Stanesa, 617-230-0347

Ten Bridge Communications

ann@tenbridgecommunications.com  

Aura Biosciences Closes $21M Series B Financing

By Aura Biosciences, Press Release, Publicly Listed
Press Release.

 

Prepares to enter clinical trials for the treatment of rare ocular cancers

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS – March 5, 2015 – Aura Biosciences, a biotech company developing highly tumor-targeted breakthrough therapies for rare cancers, has secured a $21M Series B round of funding.  The financing was led by Advent Life Sciences, with participation from new investors, Chiesi Ventures, Ysios Capital, and Alexandria Venture Investments.  Existing investors, including LI-COR Biosciences and Henri Termeer, former Chief Executive Officer of Genzyme, also participated in the financing.   The financing will be used to advance Aura’s unique and novel therapies into clinical trials for the treatment of rare cancers of the eye, and to further develop for additional cancer indications its first-in-class technology that was discovered and developed in partnership with Dr. John Schiller at the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

“Our investors share our vision and our conviction that our technology will uniquely enable the development of breakthrough therapies for orphan cancers that have no effective treatments,”

said Elisabet de los Pinos, founder and CEO of Aura Biosciences.

“Our lead product is focused on treating ocular cancers that are life-threatening, yet for which patients have no targeted or FDA-approved therapies available.  We are dedicated to bringing to this patient population first-in-class therapies that can both eliminate the tumor and preserve vision.”

Aura Biosciences’ platform is based on viral nanoparticles, a new class of drugs that harness the potential of a unique cell targeting for the treatment of cancer.  The technology was discovered and developed in partnership with Dr. John Schiller’s lab at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Dr. Schiller is the recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President Obama, the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement.

The nanoparticles demonstrate highly selective targeting of solid tumors and metastases while leaving normal epithelium untouched.  Aura’s lead product incorporates a viral nanoparticle conjugated with a potent cell-killing laser-activated molecule (IRDye 700DX, LI-COR Biosciences) that is delivered efficiently and selectively to cancerous cells, thereby reducing or eliminating the risk of non-specific activity and/or undesirable toxicity.  Aura Biosciences and the NCI have generated a considerable body of data in vitro and in vivo that shows highly selective tumor uptake in multiple animal models and provides a strong preclinical validation of the technology platform.

“Aura Biosciences is developing first-in-class drugs for rare ocular cancers that can improve patient outcomes and positively impact patient lives,”

said Dale Pfost, general partner at Advent Life Sciences.

“The data generated from Aura’s platform suggests that there is great potential to treat ocular cancers in a completely novel way with high tumor specificity along with maximal drug and laser penetration that can eliminate tumors with no damage to other ocular structures.”

“There is a tremendous unmet need for therapies that can help those with rare diseases,”

said Henri Termeer, former Chief Executive Officer of Genzyme, a pioneer in drug development for orphan indications.

“With Aura’s technology, once the product is confirmed in the clinic, patients with rare ocular cancers will have for the first time and in the near future a non-invasive targeted therapy available to them.”

In conjunction with the financing, Dale Pfost, General Partner at Advent Life Sciences, Art Pappas, CEO of A.M. Pappas & Associates, and Joël Jean-Mairet, Managing Partner at Ysios Capital will join Aura’s Board of Directors.  Current Board member Alan Walts, former head of Genzyme Ventures, will become Executive Chairman.  In addition, Alison Lawton, former Genzyme executive and former COO of OvaScience, will be appointed as Chief Operating Officer.

About Aura Biosciences
Aura Biosciences is applying nanotechnology to the fight against cancer.  Its novel viral nanoparticle technology, developed in partnership with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), harnesses the potential of viral evolution and tumor targeting for the treatment of cancer.  For more information, visit www.aurabiosciences.com.

About Advent Life Sciences
Advent Life Sciences is one of Europe’s leading venture teams investing in life sciences businesses.  The team consists of professionals with extensive scientific, medical and operational experience, and a long-standing track record of entrepreneurial and investment success across the UK, Europe and the US.  The firm invests in a range of sectors within life sciences, principally in new drug discovery, enabling technologies and med tech.  Realizations in the last three years include Algeta, Avila, CN Creative, EUSA and Micromet.  Current investments include Acutus, Biocartis, Cellnovo, f2G, NeRRe, and Versartis.  For more information, please visit www.adventls.com.

About Chiesi Ventures
Chiesi Ventures is a venture capital firm focused on the area of rare and orphan disorders. Our goal is to complement the strategic interest of the Chiesi Group by investing in early stage development opportunities. Chiesi Ventures also aim to accelerate the expansion of the Chiesi network in the US among universities, venture capital investors, rare disease patient organizations and entrepreneurial companies developing treatments for rare diseases. For more information, please visit www.chiesiventures.com.

About Ysios Capital
Ysios Capital is a leading Spanish venture capital firm that provides private equity financing to early- and mid-stage human healthcare and life science companies with a special focus on pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and medical devices. Founded in 2008, Ysios Capital has € 118 million in assets under management distributed over two funds. The second fund has a target size of € 100 million and will remain open to new investors until September 2015. For further information see www.ysioscapital.com

About Alexandria Venture Investments
Alexandria Venture Investments is the strategic venture capital arm of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. (NYSE: ARE). Founded in 1994, Alexandria is the largest and leading investment-grade real estate investment trust (REIT) focused principally on owning, operating, and developing high-quality, sustainable real estate for the broad and diverse life science and technology industries. In 1996, Alexandria founded Alexandria Venture Investments to actively invest at the cutting edge of novel, breakthrough discoveries in biopharmaceuticals, diagnostics, research tools, medical devices, digital health, and technology. Alexandria is uniquely positioned to fund life science and advanced technology companies based on its experience and in-depth understanding of these industries, its long-term relationships with leading investors, and its world-class international scientific advisory network. For more information, please visit www.are.com.

About LI-COR Biosciences
LI COR Biosciences is a leading manufacturer of near-infrared and chemiluminescence imaging platforms, analysis software, and IRDye® infrared dye reagents for drug discovery, life science research, and pre-clinical imaging. Founded in 1971, the privately held company is based in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Contact:

Matt Burke
+1 603.315.0618
mburke@aurabiosciences.com