Nereus attracts $20M round for cancer drug programs

With its Phase II lung cancer trial fully enrolled, San Diego-based Nereus Pharmaceuticals says that a roster of venture firms has kicked in a $20 million round to back its two cancer programs. The financing was led by HBM BioVentures and included Alta Partners, Forward Ventures, Gimv, Advent International, Pacific Venture Group, Roche Venture Fund, and Astellas Venture Management.  

Nereus, which is developing therapies derived from marine microbes, recruited 170 patients for its international trial of plinabulin (NPI-2358), which it describes as a tumor selective vascular disrupting agent. "Preliminary data on the primary efficacy endpoint of survival are encouraging and continue to mature," Nereus said in a release. Nereus' second drug candidate, marizomib (NPI-0052), is a second-generation inhibitor of the 20S proteasome. Nereus reported a $45 million D-2 round in 2007.

"Nereus has made significant clinical progress with its anti-cancer agents, plinabulin and marizomib, two highly differentiated product candidates that are progressing nicely through mid-stage clinical trials towards pivotal studies," said Matthew A. Spear, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Nereus Pharmaceuticals, Inc.  "There is significant momentum behind our programs, fueled by enthusiasm from some of the top cancer experts from around the world."

- check out the Nereus release for more data