Arvinas scores $41M round, moves closer to the clinic in a landmark month

New Haven, CT-based Arvinas has hit a biotech trifecta. Over the past month the biotech grabbed recognition as a Fierce 15 company, signed up Genentech as its second marquee collaborator and now has garnered a $41.6 million B round to continue its pipeline development work.

Startup backers Canaan Partners and 5AM Ventures jumped into this new round, getting some help from some crossovers while enrolling RA Capital Management, OrbiMed and New Leaf Venture Partners into the financial fan club.

Arvinas will use the money to take one giant step beyond protein inhibition and into protein degradation, going after a range of tough targets with a more permanent solution for some serious medical problems.

Just a few weeks ago, Genentech stepped in with a $300 million deal to partner on the technology. Back in the spring, Merck ($MRK) came in with a $434 million deal that gives it access to Arvinas' proteolysis-targeting chimera, or PROTAC, platform. Merck, which has been picking up the pace in R&D as it looks beyond its big PD-1 campaign, gave Arvinas the kind of Big Pharma validation that fledgling companies love. Merck has two targets in mind, which Arvinas can't identify at this stage.

"It was amazing how fast our pipeline has matured over the past two years," says Sean Cassidy, Arvinas' CFO.

Given the back-to-back venture rounds, the deals and the addition of crossover investors well familiar with public markets, it's only natural to ask if Arvinas is plotting an IPO.

The answer: Not right away, but don't think they haven't thought about how an IPO can play into funding another stage of the company's development.

"It is absolutely an option that Arvinas is going to have," adds Cassidy. "As it matures, I think our value will go up."

In the meantime, says CEO Manny Litchman, the company has been fielding more inbound inquiries from potential partners looking to collaborate on some specific types of programs as it focuses on its lead androgen receptor degradation program and moves closer to the clinic.

"We were impressed by the scientific accomplishments of Arvinas in their first two years and enthusiastic about the robust pipeline entering clinical trials in 2016," said Andrew Levin of RA Capital Management, which led the Series B financing. "Arvinas has a truly unique platform degrading targets of interest, within and outside of oncology, and they are using this powerful platform to rapidly build a portfolio of bifunctional small molecules."

Special Report: FierceBiotech's 2015 Fierce 15 - Arvinas