Immuno-oncology startup Arcus Bioscience has got off another impressive round of funding, just over a year after emerging from stealth with $120 million.
This latest round, worth a major $107 million, was led by Google’s venture arm, with a host of new backers getting into the action, including Wellington Management Company LLP, EcoR1 Capital, BVF Partners L.P., Decheng Capital, Hillhouse, Aisling Capital and entities affiliated with Leerink Partners, as well as existing investors The Column Group, Foresite Capital, Invus Opportunities, DROIA, Celgene and Taiho Ventures.
They’re all buying into Arcus’ science in small molecule and antibody immuno-oncology approaches, with the aim of building its own internal combinations, rather than using the “throw and see what sticks” approach that many marketed I-O drugs are doing with nearly every cancer drug in the pipeline available.
This cash boost, bringing its total since its founding in 2015 to nearly a quarter of a billion, will help toward a series of clinical programs for AB928, a first-in-class dual adenosine receptor antagonist, and AB122, a PD-1 antibody.
Earlier this month, Arcus says it kick-started a phase 1 of AB928, with a midstage test, in combo with AB122 in cancer patients, slated for the first half of next year; it also started an early-stage trial of AB122 in cancer patients in Australia, with data set to be posted in 2018. The biotech added that it “plans to evaluate AB122 in combination with its other product candidates, in addition to AB928, in the future.”
The $107 million also allows it to push on with “at least two” additional experimental meds into clinical development, including AB680, a first-in-class small molecule CD73 inhibitor, as well as AB154, a TIGIT antibody.
This also comes a few months after Arcus bulked up its cancer immunotherapy pipeline with a $816 million deal—including $18.5 million upfront—to license an anti-PD-1 antibody developed at China's Gloria Pharma and WuXi Biologics.
“We are extremely pleased to add several outstanding investors with significant expertise in biotechnology to our investor group,” said Terry Rosen, Ph.D., CEO of Arcus Biosciences.
“We have been assembling a team of staff, investors, leadership and advisers with a highly aligned long-term vision to create, develop and commercialize innovative cancer immunotherapies that may offer a meaningful benefit to patients over existing treatments. These new investors share this vision, and we are thrilled to add their expertise, leadership and commitment to our team.”