Tolero wraps up a $22.4M round to support its cancer contender

Tolero CEO David Bearss

Tolero Pharmaceuticals has pocketed a second tranche of its Series B funding round, netting $22.4 million in total as it prepares to take its experimental marrow cancer treatment into late-stage development.

The biotech's second close piles onto the $14.2 million raise it announced in August, completing a round led by Fred Alger Management and including undisclosed institutional and individual investors. The cash will bankroll Tolero's efforts to demonstrate alvocidib's potential in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), in which the bone marrow misproduces blood cells and quickly spreads cancer throughout the body, a disease that kills more than 20,000 people each year.

Tolero plans to kick off Phase III trials in AML next year. Alvocidib is a small-molecule CDK inhibitor that works by targeting the proteins that regulate the cell cycle, selectively interrupting the process to kill off cancerous growths.

In interim Phase II results presented in June, alvocidib notched a complete response rate of 70% compared to 46% with standard of care, the company said, meeting its primary endpoint as investigators wait for overall survival data to mature.

Now Tolero hopes to confirm that promise in Phase III, CEO David Bearss said.

"This new financing will enable the advancement of alvocidib, which has demonstrated significant potential in the treatment of AML in clinical studies to date, with high complete response rates, many of which remain durable," Bearss said in a statement. "Our new investors provide additional validation of our approach to discovering and developing innovative new treatments to improve and extend the lives of patients with cancer and other serious diseases."

The Salt Lake City biotech has also earmarked a portion of its Series B proceeds to support its preclinical pipeline, planning to advance two undisclosed candidates into Phase I by next year.

- read the statement