Hung, ex-Medivation execs join forces for stealthy cancer startup

David Hung
David Hung, M.D., will lead Nuvation Bio. (Medivation)

David Hung, M.D., has had a strange few years: From the man who led Medivation to being snapped up by Pfizer in a major $14 billion M&A deal, he then went over to Axovant, where it went very wrong.

He’s now looking to turn things around. Last year, he quietly founded a new oncology company known as Nuvation Bio, and he’s clearly been busy meeting the money men and women because today, it’s seen a massive $275 million series A.  

This mammoth round was “led, structured and syndicated” by Omega Funds, it said in a statement, with a host of others chipping in, including: Aisling Capital, Altitude Life Science Ventures, The Baupost Group, Boxer Capital of the Tavistock Group, EDBI (a global Asia-based investor), ECOR1 Capital, Fidelity Management and Research Company, Pavilion Capital, Perceptive Advisors, Redmile Group, Surveyor Capital (a Citadel company) and other institutional investors.

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As you’d expect at this stage, there’s little detail around its pipeline. The money will “enable Nuvation Bio to expand its development activities and advance a number of its oncology programs,” and though launching today, it’s still in stealth mode, so don’t expect much more for now.

Looking a little deeper, all that’s on offer is that it is “focused on the development of next generation therapies that will target the foremost unmet needs in oncology […] Nuvation Bio's proprietary portfolio includes seven novel and mechanistically distinct oncology programs, each with multiple drug development candidates.” But that’s all she wrote.   

Hung, who will serve as CEO and president, will hope to have a better time of it than he did at Vivek Ramaswamy’s Axovant biotech, which saw big raises and an IPO based on the hopes of some old Alzheimer’s disease therapies that turned out to be duds.   

Hung ran the Axovant show, but when it went south, he took a professional hit. Axovant later pivoted to gene therapies, and now Hung appears to be returning back to his biotech roots in cancer, the focus of his former company Medivation. As well as that experience, he’s also bringing much of his old Medivation team for the Nuvation ride.

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“My vision for Nuvation Bio is to provide patients with dramatic medical advancements that address their unmet needs across a wide range of oncology applications,” he said.

“I am extremely proud of what we accomplished at Medivation, developing in just seven years what is now the world's largest prostate cancer drug. However, I believe we could have done so much more had we had more time. With seven mechanistically distinct programs at Nuvation Bio, along with the strong support of Omega Funds and a formidable syndicate of investors, we are well-positioned to expand upon the mission we started at Medivation. My team and I are extremely excited to develop even more game-changing therapies for the foremost unmet needs in oncology."

“The whole Omega Funds' team has been thrilled to partner with David on the launch and Series A syndication of Nuvation Bio and thanks to deal leads Richard Lim and Michelle Doig for their efforts executing this transaction,” added Otello Stampacchia, Ph.D., founder and managing director of Omega Funds.

“The breadth and depth of Nuvation Bio's innovative pipeline demands a large initial investment. By syndicating one of the largest-ever Series A biotech financings, David and his exceptional team are well-positioned to advance Nuvation Bio's deep portfolio of therapies focused on dramatically improving the standard of care for those living with cancer.”

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