Just days after reporting positive interim results from a mid-stage study of its closely-watched prostate cancer drug, San Diego-based Aragon Pharmaceuticals has topped up its bank account with a whopping $50 million venture round--bringing its total haul this year alone to $88 million.
The 2012 Fierce 15 company was able to quickly fill a 100-patient Phase II study of ARN-509 for castration-resistant prostate cancer earlier this year. And just days ago it reported positive interim results, with close to 9 of every 10 patients in one group treated with standard androgen deprivation demonstrating a significant drop in PSA after 12 weeks. About a third of patients whose disease had progressed after being treated with Zytiga had a similar response. Aragon believes that 509 has real potential as a combo therapy with Zytiga, which has been capturing a growing share of the market.
The anti-androgen therapy has captured an A-list group of investors with the prospect that it can disrupt the fast-changing prostate cancer market with another big advance for patients. VenBio led the financing with existing Aragon investors Topspin Fund--run by James Simons--Aisling Capital, OrbiMed Advisors and The Column Group all joining in.
ARN-509 came out of the lab of UCLA's Charles Sawyer, the same investigator who helped birth Medivation's newly-approved prostate cancer therapy Xtandi. Medivation has filed a lawsuit against UCLA claiming that its pact with the university should have provided the biotech with the rights to 509--but Aragon CEO Richard Heyman has consistently shrugged off the legal claim, maintaining that the university specifically asserted that it was free to strike a separate pact for the drug.
"ARN-509 is a unique, late stage asset with tremendous market potential, and one of many impressive compounds Aragon is developing," said VenBio's Robert Adelman. "We have been very impressed with Aragon's accomplishments to date, and we look forward to supporting the company's future endeavors."
- here's the press release on the round
- read the release on the data
Special Reports: Aragon Pharmaceuticals – 2012 Fierce 15 | Aragon Pharmaceuticals -- The Top 15 Biotech Venture Investments in H1 2012