Norway's BerGenBio banks $12.5M for early-stage cancer drug R&D

A fledgling biotech in Norway's notable cancer drug cluster has garnered about $12.5 million to back its early-stage efforts on a new therapy for acute myeloid leukemia and non-small cell lung cancer. BerGenBio AS says it attracted a syndicate of new and existing investors for the round, adding the cash to the $6 million it raised last spring.

Much of that money will be earmarked for BGB324, which the little biotech describes as the "only selective Axl receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor in clinical development to target tumor epithelial-mesenchymal transition." The drug has potential for drug-resistant solid and hematological cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer and acute myeloid leukemia. The company will also invest two other programs: BGB001 and BGB002.

The biotech says it plans to conduct three studies with the money, with data due in 2015.

"We believe that targeting Axl is a promising new approach to treating drug resistant cancers and we look forward to using this investment to continue exploring the clinical opportunity for our lead Axl inhibitor, BGB324, and our other candidate compounds," said CEO Richard Godfrey in a statement.

Over the last few years a number of cancer drug developers have spring up around Oslo, many hoping to imitate the success of Algeta, which was bought out by Bayer in a $2.9 billion deal.

- here's the press release

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