Antiva Biosciences grabs $22M as it starts precancerous lesion candidate tests

Antiva Biosciences has secured $22 million in a Series C funding round, a week after kick-starting its phase 1 study in healthy women, as it aims to create a new treatment for precancerous lesions caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.

The California biotech is developing its lead compound, ABI-1968, as a topical med that is administered intravaginally to women. The target is high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), a precancerous condition caused by HPV in which abnormal cell growth occurs on the surface of the cervix.

The biotech says that while there are a number of HPV vaccines, many women have not been protected; if CIN is not treated, it can later become cancerous, and Antiva says it wants its treatment to become “as routine as treating a yeast infection.” The condition is also seen in higher numbers in women who smoke.

Antiva is doing its phase 1 now in healthy women and plans a phase 1b test in patients with high-grade CIN later this year.

Its latest funding was led by Brace Pharma Capital, with help from new investors NS Investment, Osage University Partners and Alexandria Venture Investments. Existing investors Canaan Partners and Sofinnova Ventures, which co-led the company's Series B-1 financing, also participated in the round. It was founded back in 2012.

“Despite the introduction of prophylactic HPV vaccines more than 10 years ago, there are tens of millions of women living with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, and over 260,000 deaths globally from cervical cancer each year,” said Gail Maderis, president and CEO of Antiva. “Our goal is to make treating this precancerous condition as routine as treating a yeast infection. This financing will help us advance ABI-1968 into clinical studies, bringing it one step closer to the women who need it.”