F-Prime, Atlas lead cancer startup Akrevia to $30M A round

Akrevia Therapeutics has raised a $30 million series A round led by F-Prime Capital Partners and Atlas Venture. The financing sets up a team led by ex-Ariad and Intellia executives to advance a pipeline of immuno-oncology candidates. 

Massachusetts-based Akrevia is based on a platform that creates molecules that are designed to stay inactive until they reach the tumor microenvironment. By restricting the activity of molecules to the area around tumors, Akrevia thinks the Aklusion platform it licensed from City of Hope and Thomas Jefferson University will improve the targeting of immuno-oncology therapies.

Akrevia said it has validated the concept by working on an antibody against CTLA-4, the same target as Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Yervoy. City of Hope and Thomas Jefferson University have filed for a patent related to “recombinant masking proteins” that enable the development of tumor-selective CTLA-4 antagonists. 

While little public information about the platform is available, the evidence Akrevia has accrued privately has persuaded some notable names of its potential. F-Prime and Atlas led the series A and have helped to recruit a management team well versed in cancer drug development. 

Nessan Bermingham, Ph.D., the former CEO of Intellia, has taken up the role of executive chairman. Bermingham will work alongside Ariad’s former R&D chief Tim Clackson, Ph.D., who is occupying the president and EVP of R&D positions at Akrevia.

Having overseen development of Iclusig and Alunbrig during his 22 years at Ariad, Clackson is familiar with the state of cancer drug development and treatment. And, in looking for his first post-Ariad role, Clackson identified Akrevia as a company with the potential to address a limitation of today’s treatments.

“Currently, we don’t lack potential agents—just the ability to effectively and safely deliver them where they’re needed, and with precisely tailored properties,” Clackson said in a statement. “Our vision at Akrevia is to unleash the full potential of immune stimulating molecules including antibodies, cytokines and chemokines, as new options for patients living with cancer.”