CRUK invests in SV fund, pushing it closer to $250M target

Cancer Research UK and SV Health Investors have allied to accelerate development of cancer drugs. CRUK is set to invest $25 million in SV’s new biotech fund and work with its new partner to pick out research to develop externally.

Nonprofit CRUK invests upward of £400 million ($505 million) a year in cancer research, some of which takes place at its network of U.K. facilities. Following years of investment in research, CRUK now has links to more than 30 active experimental programs and eight approved therapies, including AstraZeneca’s PARP inhibitor Lynparza.

Teaming up with SV gives CRUK the chance to usher more research out of its network and onto the market. SV will work with the nonprofit to identify research that could be sped toward the market using an injection of external investment, formalizing a relationship that has proven to be fruitful at times in the past. 

SV and CRUK both played roles in the creation of Kudos Pharmaceuticals, the inventor of Lynparza, and DNA damage response startup Artios Pharma. Working together, the partners now plan to look for more opportunities to translate CRUK research into new cancer candidates. 

Startups birthed as a result of the collaboration will begin life with a connection to SV, which is raising its seventh biotech-focused fund. Those efforts received a boost with CRUK’s commitment to put at least $25 million in the investment vehicle.

CRUK’s commitment gives it another way to support cancer R&D. SV plans to invest 60% of the fund in opportunities related to oncology, continuing the preference for cancer projects evident in its sixth fund. Two-thirds of the early-stage biotech investments made by SV’s sixth fund targeted cancer.

At $250 million, the target size of the new fund is smaller than that of its predecessor, which topped out at $400 million. But a shift in focus means SV will have more money to invest in biotech if it hits its fundraising target. While SV invested 55% of its sixth fund in businesses other than biotechs, such as device companies, all the money in the new vehicle will go to early-stage drug development shops.