NEW YORK – Israel-based drug developer Novellus announced on Tuesday that it has raised $57 million in a Series C funding round that it will use to advance the development of precision oncology assets in its pipeline.
The financing round was led by Pontifax, and included OrbiMed Advisors, HBM Healthcare Investments, Wellington Management, Cormorant Asset Management, Novartis Venture Fund, SR One, and existing investors.
The company will use the raised funds to further develop its lead product, PLX-8394, a BRAF inhibitor that it licensed from Daiichi Sankyo subsidiary Plexxikon earlier this year. BRAF inhibitors have been approved in the US for melanoma and lung cancer patients whose tumors harbor BRAF mutations. However, Novellus is eyeing molecularly defined cancer indications, such as tumors with BRAF fusions and BRAF-mutated gliomas, for which there are currently no marketed BRAF inhibitors.
Novellus will also use the proceeds to grow its pipeline of products using its FACT platform, which allows the company to explore the role of naturally occurring mutations in activating cancer-promoting pathways and study whether these markers may be targeted by treatments. Using this platform, Novellus is able to identify unique subsets of patients who may respond to its drugs.
"PLX-8394 was the first drug we identified using our platform as having an effect across a wide range of unique BRAF mutations," Gabi Tarcic, Novellus' chief technology officer, said in a statement. "With this investment, we will extend this work to other genes and other compounds to create a unique pipeline."