Press release


06/03/2015
Aura Biosciences Closes $21M Series B Financing
Aura biosciences
Aura Biosciences, a biotech company developing highly tumor-targeted breakthrough therapies for rare cancers, has secured a $21M Series B round of
funding. The financing was led by Advent Life Sciences, with participation from new investors, Chiesi Ventures, Ysios Capital, and Alexandria Venture Investments. Existing investors, including LI-COR Biosciences and Henri Termeer, former Chief Executive Officer of Genzyme, also participated in the
financing.
 
CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS – March 5, 2015 – Aura Biosciences, a biotech company developing highly tumor-targeted breakthrough therapies for rare cancers, has secured a $21M Series B round of funding. The financing was led by Advent Life Sciences, with participation from new investors, Chiesi Ventures, Ysios Capital, and Alexandria Venture Investments. Existing investors, including LI-COR Biosciences and Henri Termeer, former Chief Executive Officer of Genzyme, also participated in the financing. The financing will be used to advance Aura’s unique and novel therapies into clinical trials for the treatment of rare cancers of the eye, and to further develop for additional cancer indications its first-in-class technology that was discovered and developed in partnership with Dr. John Schiller at the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
“Our investors share our vision and our conviction that our technology will uniquely enable the development of breakthrough therapies for orphan cancers that have no effective treatments,” said Elisabet de los Pinos, founder and CEO of Aura Biosciences. “Our lead product is focused on treating ocular cancers that are life-threatening, yet for which patients have no targeted or FDA-approved therapies available. We are dedicated to bringing to this patient population first-in-class therapies that can both eliminate the tumor and preserve vision.”
Aura Biosciences’ platform is based on viral nanoparticles, a new class of drugs that harness the potential of a unique cell targeting for the treatment of cancer. The technology was discovered and developed in partnership with Dr. John Schiller’s lab at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Dr. Schiller is the recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President Obama, the nation's highest honor for technological achievement.
The nanoparticles demonstrate highly selective targeting of solid tumors and metastases while leaving normal epithelium untouched. Aura’s lead product incorporates a viral nanoparticle conjugated with a potent cell-killing laser-activated molecule (IRDye 700DX, LI-COR Biosciences) that is delivered efficiently and selectively to cancerous cells, thereby reducing or eliminating the risk of non-specific activity and/or undesirable toxicity. Aura Biosciences and the NCI have generated a considerable body of data in vitro and in vivo that shows highly selective tumor uptake in multiple animal models and provides a strong preclinical validation of the technology platform.
“Aura Biosciences is developing first-in-class drugs for rare ocular cancers that can improve patient outcomes and positively impact patient lives,” said Dale Pfost, general partner at Advent Life Sciences. “The data generated from Aura’s platform suggests that there is great potential to treat ocular cancers in a completely novel way with high tumor specificity along with maximal drug and laser penetration that can eliminate tumors with no damage to other ocular structures.”
“There is a tremendous unmet need for therapies that can help those with rare diseases,” said Henri Termeer, former Chief Executive Officer of Genzyme, a pioneer in drug development for orphan indications. “With Aura’s technology, once the product is confirmed in the clinic, patients with rare ocular cancers will have for the first time and in the near future a non-invasive targeted therapy available to them.”
In conjunction with the financing, Dale Pfost, General Partner at Advent Life Sciences, Art Pappas, CEO of A.M. Pappas & Associates, and Joël Jean-Mairet, Managing Partner at Ysios Capital will join Aura’s Board of Directors. Current Board member Alan Walts, former head of Genzyme Ventures, will become Executive Chairman. In addition, Alison Lawton, former Genzyme executive and former COO of OvaScience, will be appointed as Chief Operating Officer.
 
 
 
 
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