Avila raises $30M, inks deal with Novartis Option Fund

Waltham, MA-based Avila Therapeutics unveiled two major announcements today. First, the developer has closed a $30 million Series B round of funding--enough money to move the company's lead drug into clinical trials and support its activities through mid to late 2011. Additionally, Avila signed a deal with Novartis Option Fund that includes upfront and potential milestones payments of $200 million plus royalties.

Avila's platform technology--called Avilomics--creates covalent drug product opportunities that fight disease through protein silencing. The company's platform has produced two programs demonstrating preclinical activity--one targeting hepatitis C virus protease and the other targeting Btk.

Novartis Option Fund led the $30 million investment round, and was joined by existing investors Abingworth, Advent Venture Partners, Atlas Venture and Polaris Venture Partners. Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance Avila's first program into clinical development while continuing to advance the proprietary Avilomics drug discovery platform.

Avila's $200 million deal with Novartis Option Fund focuses on the advancement of a covalent drug program from Avila's research pipeline, in conjunction with an equity investment. "The agreement is a strong complement to Novartis' equity investment in Avila, and together these steps represent an important evolution in Avila's strategic development," said Avila CEO Katrine Bosley (photo) in a statement. "We anticipate establishing a select number of strategic relationships in order to take full advantage of the breadth and depth of the Avilomics platform, and we're very pleased to have Novartis as the first."

- here's Avila's release on the funding
- see this statement on the Novartis agreement