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22 September 2016

Imperial responds to $33.2m Artios series A

Imperial Innovations, AbbVie Ventures and Merck Ventures are among the backers of the Cancer Research UK spinout that is working on cancer therapies.

Author: Thierry Heles, editor

UK-based cancer-focused biotechnology company Artios Pharma launched yesterday with £25m ($33.2m) in series A capital provided by investors including Imperial Innovations, the investment firm affiliated with Imperial College London.

Merck Ventures and AbbVie Ventures, the respective corporate venturing divisions of pharmaceutical companies Merck and AbbVie, also contributed to the round which was led by SV Life Sciences.

Further contributions came from Arix Bioscience and CRT Pioneer Fund, a £50m vehicle established by charity Cancer Research UK's tech transfer arm Cancer Research Technology (CRT) and the European Investment Fund.

Artios Pharma is based on research conducted by Cancer Research UK and was spun out by CRT. The company is working on DNA damage response (DDR) cancer therapies, which exploit the body's own cellular pathways to sense, signal and repair lesions in the DNA.

The capital will be used to build a pipeline of therapies and to advance lead candidates to clinical trials. Imperial Innovations contributed £5.1m to the series A round and will hold a 14.9% stake.

Bobby Soni, director of Healthcare Ventures at Imperial Innovations, said: "It is not every day that you get an opportunity to help launch such an exciting company.

"Targeting the DNA Damage Response is an exciting and promising field of biology. DDR drug products have generated considerable interest following the recent clinical successes of PARP inhibitors which have highlighted the potential for DDR drugs to cause selective death in cancer cells.

"We are delighted to be part of such an impressive syndicate of investors which reflects Artios' international ambitions to build a pipeline of first-in-class DDR therapies identified from a network of global, independent collaborators."

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