Arix invests in oncology innovator VelosBio

Investment set to improve haematological cancer care


Investing in oncology and cancer treatments

Arix, the UK-based global health and life sciences specialist, today announces its investment in VelosBio – a next-gen oncology company. This partnership will allow VelosBio to develop its new antibody-drug conjugates, or ADCs, to treat hematological cancers and solid tumors.

Source: Unsplash

Arix can now count ADCs as one of their therapies, alongside a broad range that includes CAR-T cell therapy, DNA damage response, and targeted viruses such as Harpoon, Aura, and Autolus. CIO Joe Anderson has praised his firm’s strong range of partnerships as a strategy designed to

support a diverse portfolio of companies using novel and differentiated approaches to treat cancer and improve patient outcomes

As part of the financing, Arix has committed to invest $11 million for an 11.2 per cent stake on a fully diluted basis. They are the leaders in a $58 million investment round for VelosBio. Arix Investment Director Mark Chin will join the VelosBio board of directors.

A strong history

The team at Arix have a history of successful M&A ventures, navigating clinical pathways, and mitigating risk to get drugs to market. They are keen to assist with the development of targeted chemotherapy treatments such as those being worked on by VelosBio. These treatments avoid the tolerability and safety issues of traditional chemotherapies, and by delivering the toxin only the tumor cells, there is an opportunity to use highly-toxic drugs without safety issues for the patients.

We are delighted with the strong support… enable[ing] us to drive VelosBio’s business forward ambitiously as we approach our next stage of growth and development

David Johnson, CEO of VelosBio  

It is expected that this ADC treatment will achieve more than $1 billion in sales, and will come to be considered the standard of care for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Arix’s oncology portfolio has now been increased from three to five, further strengthening their position in the industry.

An experienced team

VelosBio has a highly experienced leadership team, led by Chief Executive Officer, Dave Johnson, the former CEO of Acerta Pharma, which developed the approved blood cancer treatment, CALQUENCE (acalabrutinib), acquired by AstraZeneca for $7 billion in 2015.

Cancer emerges through multiple molecular and cellular pathways and accordingly needs to be tackled with multiple therapeutic tools. Our strategy in oncology is to support a diverse portfolio of companies using novel and differentiated approaches to treat cancer and improve patient outcomes. We look forward to working with the VelosBio leadership team and our co-investors to help accelerate the development of this exciting company.

Joe Anderson, Chief Investment Officer of Arix 

Prior to Acerta, Mr. Johnson  contributed to the development and commercialization of numerous approved global oncology agents holding roles of increasing responsibility in Clinical Development, Medical Affairs, Pipeline Development, and Commercial at Roche, Immunex (acquired by Amgen), Millennium (acquired by Takeda), Gloucester (acquired by Celgene), and Calistoga (acquired by Gilead Sciences). 

VelosBio’s Executive Vice President of Development and Chief Medical Officer, Langdon Miller, MD, is an accomplished drug development expert with over 25 years of experience in the design and conduct of translational and clinical drug development programmes in oncology and orphan diseases. Trained as a medical oncologist at Stanford University, he has held senior leadership positions at the National Cancer Institute, Pharmacia Corporation, PTC Therapeutics, Calistoga Pharmaceuticals, and Gilead, and has played a major role in the regulatory approvals of multiple clinically and commercially successful cancer therapeutics.

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