Vivace uncloaks with $40M, U.S.-China backing for cancer trials

Vivace Therapeutics has emerged from stealth with two funding rounds to the tune of $40 million as it looks to speed up work on the Hippo-YAP signaling pathway.

The Californian upstart begins life in the open with a combined $40 million from a series A and B, with the cash from across the U.S. and China.

The more recent $25 million series B was led by new investor Cenova Capital and included Sequoia Capital China and existing investors Canaan Partners, WuXi Healthcare Ventures and Mission Bay Capital.

Canaan Partners and WuXi Healthcare Ventures, meanwhile, co-led its $15 million series A back in 2015.

The biotech is working on inhibitors of the Hippo-YAP signaling pathway, which can affect cell development, and genetic mutations of the pathway, which then can give rise to a variety of cancers.

Kun-liang Guan of the University of California, San Diego, has worked on the Hippo-YAP pathway and helped found Vivace. According to a statement from the biotech, he “recently discovered additional potential immuno-oncology applications by activating the pathway.” Vivace is looking at both inhibition and activation of this pathway.

The biotech is also working on so-called BINspecific antibodies (bi-specific irreversible cell-type specific antibodies), which bind in a nearly irreversible and cell-type specific manner to target cells. These antibodies were discovered in the laboratory of Vivace's scientific co-founder, Bin Liu, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco.

“Since our founding, we have focused on bringing together the best experts from China and the U.S. to turn novel biology into first-in-class cancer therapeutics,” said Sofie Qiao, Ph.D., president and CEO of Vivace, and a former director at WuXi Healthcare Ventures.