Arvinas gains $55M C round as it eyes cancer trials, pipeline work

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Former Fierce 15 winner Arvinas, which has caught the attention of Pfizer and Roche over the last year, has got off a strong $55 million series C as it looks to bring its cancer candidates into the clinic.

The New Haven, Conn.-based biotech is, like a number of startups, working on protein degradation, with early-stage efforts focused on oral programs in castration-resistant prostate cancer and the estrogen receptor for ER-positive positive breast cancer.

Both are preclinical, but with this cash boost the biotech is plotting clinical studies in the fourth quarter.

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The $55 million round was led by new investor Nextech Invest, with help from Deerfield Management, Hillhouse Capital and Sirona Capital, as well as original investors Canaan Partners, 5AM Ventures, RA Capital Management, OrbiMed and New Leaf Venture Partners.

The cash will also be used to “advance the company’s early-stage oncology pipeline, CNS pipeline and efforts on undruggable targets,” according to a statement.

RELATED: Fierce 15 winner 2015 - Arvinas

This comes after a good 12 months for the biotech: In January, ahead of the J.P. Morgan biotech event, Arvinas penned a deal potentially worth $830 million, and more besides, with Big Pharma Pfizer in a pact that centers on the discovery and development of PROTACs (proteolysis targeting chimeras) across multiple disease areas.

And a few months before, in November last year, it inked a deal with Genentech, which saw Roche’s biologics arm double the size of its original alliance with Arvinas, moving the potential value of the pact up above $650 million.

The expansion of the deal allows Genentech to use Arvinas’ protein degradation technology against additional disease targets, also using PROTACs.

This comes as protein degradation is becoming a bigger deal among several smaller biotechs. Fellow Fierce 15 company C4 Therapeutics is tackling protein degradation using small-molecule binders, dubbed degronimids, that can target, destroy and clear proteins through the ubiquitin/proteasome system.

“This past year has been exciting for us with two clinical candidate nominations, the expansion of our collaboration with Genentech and the announcement of a new collaboration with Pfizer,” said John Houston, Ph.D., president and CEO of Arvinas, in the announcement.

“With this additional financial support from existing and new investors who believe in our innovative protein degradation platform, we will continue executing on our strategy of progressing our lead programs to the clinic, expanding the use of the platform outside of oncology, and tackling undruggable targets," Houston said.