AstraZeneca backs ADC in $105M to support 6 clinical oncology candidates

AstraZeneca ($AZN) first bought into ADC Therapeutics as part of a 2013 financing. Then it ponied up intellectual property and a CEO for the Swiss startup from Spirogen, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AstraZeneca’s MedImmune. Now, it’s upped the ante even further by participating in a $105 million financing.

ADC already has a pair of clinical-stage programs, ADCT-301 and ADCT-402, which are in four clinical trials in sub-types of lymphoma and leukemia. It expects to add another two programs to the clinic, this time in solid tumors, later this year and early next year. Within the next 18 months, the startup is aiming for an ambitious six clinical development programs.

“We are now extremely well positioned to support our lead programs through multiple expansion studies based on the efficacy signals that are emerging from our initial clinical trials,” said ADC CEO Dr. Chris Martin in a statement. “This financing acknowledges the progress ADCT has made with its pipeline of clinical and preclinical programs in areas of high unmet medical need.

Martin was the CEO of Spirogen when it was acquired by AstraZeneca for $440 million in 2013. ADC also has access to warhead and linkers chemistries via agreements with Astrazeneca’s Spirogen. And it’s currently progressing 11 ADC programs, two of which are under a MedImmune partnership.

The pharma participated alongside new and existing investors including Auven Therapeutics, the private equity firm that established ADC Therapeutics in 2012, and the Wild Family Office. Auven was founded in 2006 by investment banker Stephen Evans-Freke and former Pfizer ($PFE) SVP for Science and Technology Dr. Peter Corr. This latest cash infusion brings the total raised by the company to $255 million, including an $80 million round last year.

As its name implies, ADC is focused on developing antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) to treat major cancers including those of the breast, lung, prostate, renal, liver and blood. Its technology is based on combining monoclonal antibodies that are specific to surface antigens on particular tumor cells with the class of pyrrolobenzodiazepine (PBD)-based warheads from MedImmune.