DNAtrix pockets $20M to get its cancer-fighting virus into Phase III

DNAtrix, at work on viral treatment that selectively infects brain cancer cells, picked up $20 million in venture cash, funds the company said will help speed its candidate into a late-stage study.

The company is developing DNX-2401, a genetically modified adenovirus designed to invade tumor cells while sparing healthy tissues. Once DNX-2401 penetrates its target, it causes cancer cells to rupture, thereby killing them and proliferating itself to infect more tumors, according to DNAtrix.

In a dose-escalating Phase I study, DNX-2401 demonstrated itself safe and charted a durable response among 37 glioblastoma patients, DNAtrix said. Now the company is enrolling a Phase Ib trial combining the treatment with temozolomide in a similar population, enrolling about 30 patients to get a better grasp on the treatment's promise.

DNAtrix CEO Frank Tufaro

And DNAtrix's latest funding round--led by new investor Morningside Ventures and joined by Mercury Fund, Targeted Technology Fund and others--gives the biotech the cash it needs to follow through on the potential of DNX-2401, CEO Frank Tufaro said.

"Securing this funding is a significant milestone that will enable us to advance our lead oncolytic virus product, DNX-2401, into late stage clinical trials for glioblastoma," Tufaro said in a statement. "We have encouraging results from four completed and ongoing clinical studies, and this over-subscribed funding round validates our data-driven clinical approach."

The Series B cash comes on the heels of a February grant that will provide DNAtrix with $10.8 million over three years, money the company plans to spend on DNAtrix's ongoing development.

In June, the FDA granted its fast-track status to the oncolytic virus, promising an expedited review and access to key agency officials as DNAtrix works to address the unmet need of glioblastoma.

- read the statement

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