Volastra Therapeutics In-Licenses Clinical Stage KIF18A Inhibitor and Secures $60 Million in Series A Funding to Further Advance Cancer-Focused Pipeline
March 07, 2023 07:00 AM Eastern Standard Time
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Volastra Therapeutics, a clinical stage cancer biotechnology company focused on exploiting chromosomal instability (CIN), today announced completion of the in-license of Amgen’s sovilnesib (AMG650), an oral, first-in-class small molecule inhibitor of KIF18A. In parallel, the company has closed a $60 million Series A financing.
“In-licensing sovilnesib broadens our options to accelerate development of therapies against a promising new target.”
Under the terms of the licensing agreement, Volastra receives an exclusive worldwide license (ex-China) to develop and commercialize sovilnesib. In return, Amgen receives an upfront mix of cash and equity, as well as downstream milestones and royalties. The drug is currently in Phase 1 for the treatment of platinum-resistant high-grade serous ovarian cancer, triple-negative breast cancer and other solid tumors with TP53 mutations. The FDA previously granted sovilnesib fast-track designation in platinum-resistant high grade serous ovarian cancer, underscoring the high unmet need in this population.
“We are excited to add sovilnesib to our growing pipeline of CIN-targeted therapeutics which includes our own KIF18A inhibitor, VLS-1488,” said Charles Hugh-Jones, Chief Executive Officer at Volastra.
“Our focus is helping patients in critical need of new treatment options,” added Scott Drutman MD PhD, Chief Medical Officer. “In-licensing sovilnesib broadens our options to accelerate development of therapies against a promising new target.”
The Series A financing round was led by founding investors Polaris Partners and ARCH Venture Partners alongside Eli Lilly and Company. Also participating were Droia Ventures, Catalio Capital Management, Vida Ventures, Cornell University, and Meyer Ventures LLC, an affiliate of Ocean Road Advisors.
In addition to a growing clinical pipeline, Volastra recently announced a multi-year, up to $1.1 billion collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb to drive drug discovery using CIN-based synthetic lethality approaches to induce tumor cell death. To complement both clinical and discovery efforts Volastra has built a strong partnership with Microsoft to develop artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for the high throughput histopathological identification of CIN.
Volastra will advance clinical development of both sovilnesib and VLS-1488 in 2023.
About Volastra Therapeutics, Inc.
Volastra Therapeutics is a New York-based clinical-stage drug discovery company pioneering novel approaches to treating cancer by exploiting a unique tumor vulnerability known as chromosomal instability (CIN). Founded by Lewis Cantley, Ph.D., Olivier Elemento, Ph.D., and Samuel Bakhoum, M.D., Ph.D., Volastra is rapidly developing and implementing new methods to exploit this vulnerability. Leveraging its proprietary CINtech platform, the company is advancing a novel synthetic lethal and immune-activating pipeline through both discovery and clinical stages to support future patients with cancer.