A Newcastle-based biotechnology company developing a virus that can target colorectal, gastric or ovarian cancer cells is looking to raise $25 million in a Series B, with the majority of the funding secured via a $15 million investment from OneVentures.
ImmVirX aims to raise the remaining $10 million from a combination of existing shareholders and new investors, with players like Acorn Capital having already placed a bid to participate.
Founded in 2019 by Dr Malcolm McColl and Professor Darren Shafren, ImmVirX is developing cancer treatments using oncolytic viral immunotherapies, which are viruses that infect and break down cancer cells, but not normal cells.
Two months ago, the company announced that it had dosed its first patient in its two-part Phase 1 clinical trial of its bio-selected oncolytic virus, IVX037. The Phase 1a part of the study will assess IVX037 in patients with late-stage colorectal, gastric or ovarian cancer - three of the most prevalent cancer types globally.
The latest capital raise will be used for both pre-clinical and clinical trials to further develop and expand ImmVirX’s technology pipeline, as well as manufacturing and corporate and business development activities. Its latest oncolytic virus targets late-stage lung cancer.
Dr McColl and Professor Shafren were previously managing director and CSO respectively at Viralytics, an ASX-listed oncolytic virus company that was acquired in June 2018 by multi-national pharmaceutical giant Merck for $502 million.
“This is an outstanding result for the team at ImmVirX and for the unimpeded clinical development of our existing and planned programs,” said ImmVirX CEO, co-founder and acting chairman Dr Malcolm McColl.
“Against the backdrop of what’s been a difficult capital market for biotechnology companies, it is testament to the work of our team thus far, and a significant vote of confidence from OneVentures to lead this round of funding.
“The new funds will enable us to accelerate the development of our innovative oncolytic viral immunotherapies and bring us closer to our goal of transforming outcomes for patients with some of the most prevalent cancer types.”
The latest raise comes more than two years since ImmVirX secured $22 million in a round led by Acorn Capital. Other biotech companies to receive funding this year includec Cortical Labs, Emyria and SpeeDx.
As part of the latest round, OneVentures principal Dr Jeannie Joughin has joined the ImmVirX board as a non-executive director.
Dr Joughin previously held senior positions in multi-national pharmaceutical companies and start-up environments across the US, Europe and Australia, including Bristol-Myers Squibb, CSL (ASX: CSL), CSL Behring and Mayne Pharma (ASX: MYX).
She also currently serves as chair and director for OneVentures portfolio company BiVACOR and is a director of CCRM Australia.
“ImmVirX is a strategic investment for Fund III, providing a novel oncolytic immunotherapy which has the potential to improve treatment responses alone or when combined with other treatments and provides further diversification to the OneVentures’ Healthcare portfolio,” Joughin said.
“We also see this as a great opportunity to partner with ImmVirX to expand the product pipeline and treat more underserved cancer types with huge market potential.”
McColl added he is delighted to welcome Dr Joughin to the board.
“Her extensive international experience across research, clinical development, marketing and business development in the biopharmaceutical space will be invaluable,” he said.
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