London, UK - 21 September 2016 - Imperial Innovations Group plc (AIM: IVO, ‘the Group’, ‘Innovations’) has committed £5.1 million to the £25.0 million Series A funding round of Artios Pharma Ltd. (‘Artios’ or ‘the Company’) a new Cambridge-based private biotech company launched today, focused on the development of novel DNA Damage Response (DDR) cancer therapies.
Artios was formed with assets out of Cancer Research Technology (CRT), the technology transfer unit of Cancer Research UK (CRUK). The Company is led by Dr. Niall Martin, Artios’ Chief Executive Officer, who has proven expertise in DDR drug discovery as previous Director of Drug Discovery at KuDOS Pharmaceuticals, which discovered Olaparib (an FDA-approved targeted therapy for cancer). KuDOS was sold to AstraZeneca in January 2006 for $210m. Prior to joining Artios, Dr. Martin was a co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at MISSION Therapeutics, another Cambridge-based drug discovery company in which Innovations has invested.
Artios is backed by a strong syndicate of leading European and US life science investors including SV Life Sciences, Merck Ventures, Arix Bioscience PLC, CRT Pioneer Fund (managed by Sixth Element Capital), and AbbVie Ventures in addition to Innovations. The investment will be used to build a high value pipeline of DDR therapies sourced from Cancer Research UK and global collaborators, and to progress its lead programmes, including Pol-theta, into the clinic.
Following this investment Innovations will hold a 14.9% interest in the Company.
Bobby Soni, Director of Healthcare Ventures at Imperial Innovations commented:
“It’s not every day that you get an opportunity to help launch such an exciting company.
“Targeting the DNA Damage Response is an exciting and promising field of biology. DDR drug products have generated considerable interest following the recent clinical successes of PARP inhibitors which have highlighted the potential for DDR drugs to cause selective death in cancer cells.
“We are delighted to be part of such an impressive syndicate of investors which reflects Artios’ international ambitions to build a pipeline of first-in-class DDR therapies identified from a network of global, independent collaborators.”
About Imperial Innovations - www.imperialinnovations.co.uk
Imperial Innovations Group plc (“Innovations”) creates, builds and invests in pioneering technology companies and licensing opportunities developed from outstanding scientific research from the 'Golden Triangle', the geographical region broadly bounded by London, Cambridge and Oxford. This area has an unrivalled cluster of outstanding academic research and technology businesses, and is home to four of the world’s top 10 universities, as well as leading research institutions, the cream of the UK’s science and technology businesses and many of its leading investors.
Innovations supports scientists and entrepreneurs in the commercialisation of their ideas, through the licensing of intellectual property, by leading the formation of new companies, by recruiting high-calibre management teams and by providing investment and encouraging co-investment. Innovations remains an active investor over the life of its portfolio companies, with the majority of Innovations’ investment going into businesses in which it is already a shareholder.
Since becoming a public company in 2006, Innovations has raised more than £440 million of equity from investors, which has enabled it to invest in some of the most exciting spin-outs to come out of UK academic research. In addition, the Group has agreed £80.0 million in loan facilities from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Between Innovations’ admission to AIM (August 2006) and 31 July 2015, Innovations had invested a total of £236.8 million across its portfolio companies, which had raised collectively investment of £1.3 billion.
About Artios Pharma Ltd.
Artios is a leading independent DNA Damage Response (DDR) company focussed on developing first-in-class treatments for cancer. Established in May 2016, the Company is led by an experienced scientific and leadership team with proven expertise in DDR drug discovery. Artios is building a pipeline of next-generation DDR programmes, including through a unique partnership with Cancer Research Technology (CRT), the development and commercialisation arm of Cancer Research UK (CRUK), and with leading DNA repair researchers worldwide. The Company’s investors include SV Life Sciences, Merck Ventures, Imperial Innovations, Arix Bioscience PLC, CRT Pioneer Fund (managed by Sixth Element Capital), and AbbVie Ventures. Artios is based at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, UK.
About DNA Damage Response (DDR)
DNA Damage occurs in cells throughout the body every day. To counteract the harmful effects that DNA damage can cause, the human body possesses a network of DNA repair pathways, which act to correct the damage. This process is known as the DNA Damage Response (DDR). Defects in the body’s DDR can lead to an increased risk of cancer. Human cells have multiple DNA repair pathways, but in cancer cells, some of these pathways are lost, which result in genetic instability. Changes to DNA repair pathways can also drive the growth of tumours. By inhibiting DDR in cancer cells that have impaired repair pathways, scientists can selectively kill cancerous cells. DDR inhibitors, therefore, have the potential to act as: single agents that selectively kill tumour cells through synthetic lethality; adjunctive therapy to overcome resistance to current cytotoxics, and potentiating agents to radiotherapy and novel therapies including immune-oncology treatments.