Eli Lilly hops aboard for Mariana Oncology's $175M series B, radiopharmaceuticals mission

Investors have dived deep into their wallets for Mariana Oncology’s series B financing, with Eli Lilly coming aboard for the oversubscribed $175 million round aimed at making waves in radiopharmaceutical development.  

Deep Track Capital and Forbion co-led the Watertown, Massachusetts-based company’s fundraise and were joined by Atlas Venture, Access Biotechnology, RA Capital Management and new investors Eli Lilly, Nextech Invest and Citadel’s Surveyor Capital.

The large financing round follows a $75 million series A in December 2021—and a name change. Formerly known as Curie Therapeutics, the biotech rebranded to better reflect its mission to tackle some of cancer’s toughest tumors.

The preclinical company will use the $175 million to help transition into human trials, with a particular focus on lead asset MC-339. The precision, next-generation radiopharmaceutical is expected to enter the clinic next year for small cell lung cancer, Mariana CEO and founder Simon Read, Ph.D., said in a Sept. 7 release.   

The asset is a peptidic small molecule made to carry an actinium payload, though MC-339’s specific target has not yet been shared. Mariana’s radiopharmaceuticals are designed to pierce solid tumors better than antibodies and deliver optimized high radiation activity doses without the side effects tied to chemotherapy and toxin-based strategies.  

“Mariana Oncology’s pipeline is innovative and differentiated from most existing radiopharmaceutical companies,” said Rebecca Luse of Deep Track Capital, who also joined Mariana’s board. The investment firm was drawn to the pipeline’s broader potential for radiopharmaceuticals beyond prostate cancer, Luse added.