Israeli upstart Vidac raises $9M for cancer, skin condition trials push

Jerusalem, Israel

Israeli startup Vidac Pharma has raised $9 million in a Series A raise with the financial boost being led by a new investor, the $100 million Israel Biotech Fund--which has chosen Vidac for its first investment.

Existing investors, including Mivtach Shamir Holdings, also participated in the financing, with the cash being used toward its Phase II study for actinic keratosis (AK)--an extremely common skin condition in the middle-aged and older that comes as a result of consistent sun damage over many decades.

In a small minority of cases, if left untreated, these can develop into a form of skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma--which is not as deadly as melanoma, but more likely to spread to other parts of the body than basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer.

The VDA-1102 ointment is hoping to better current treatments on the market, which include 5-fluorouracil cream, imiquimod cream, diclofenac gel and ingenol mebutate gel, or surgical removal. These can however leave scars and cause blistering, while also increasing the risk of infection.

Vidac figures that the condition affects around 58 million people in the U.S. alone, with estimated treatment costs in 2004 of $1.2 billion, according to the biotech.

Alongside the new fund, there have also been some new roles, with Dr. Robert Spiegel and Ed Saltzman, members of Israel Biotech Fund’s Venture Advisory team, set to join Vidac’s board of directors.

Spiegel is the former chief medical officer and SVP of the Schering-Plough Research Institute, while Saltzman is president and founder of Defined Health.

“This financing will allow us to advance the clinical development of our lead candidate VDA-1102 as well as progress our pipeline of novel therapeutics into clinical development,” said Oren Becker, president and CEO of Vidac Pharma.

“We are thrilled by the strong support from our existing investors, and by the addition of Israel Biotech Fund and its new board members who are highly experienced in guiding drugs through clinical development and regulatory approval to commercial success.”

Vidac’s tech targets the cancer-specific VDAC/HK2 system and is designed to do this without hitting surrounding tissue, which should make it safer than some other treatments.

VDA-1102 recently completed a Phase I safety trial and in Q2 begins its midstage efficacy test in AK patients. The ointment will be applied topically once daily for 28 days in the double-blinded, placebo-controlled study. The company did not say when it expected to post data from the trial.

Its lead investor, the Israel Biotech Fund, made its existence known last year after months of secrecy and boasts of Sol Barer and Jeff Kindler, former CEOs of Celgene ($CELG) and Pfizer ($PFE), as its advisers.

The fund is specifically targeting Israeli biotechs that already have drugs in the clinic or on the cusp of advancing to that stage of development, with its largest investor being Biogen ($BIIB).

- check out the release

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