Arvinas takes the IPO road to find new money for new anticancer drug

After completing a $55 million round of Series C funding in April, Arvinas filed for an IPO in August to obtain up to $100 million. The New Haven based company, founded in 2013, is developing protein therapies for metastatic cancers.

Nextech Invest, lead the Series C funding round in April as a new investor. Others participating in the funding were: Deerfield Management, Hillhouse Capital, and Sirona Capital. All previous funders participated which included: Canaan Partners, 5AM Ventures, RA Capital Management, OrbiMed, and New Leaf Venture Partners.

Many companies in the industry have chosen to go public soon after obtaining various other funding, in order to further their research. Principia Biopharma and Entasis Therapeutics are two recent examples.

Arvinas is translating natural protein degradation approaches into new drugs to treat cancer and other diseases, making use of the research conducted at Yale University by Dr. Craig Crews, Founder and Chief Scientific Advisor. The company’s biotechnical approach targets disease-causing proteins for degradation, then eliminates them from the body.

The PROTAC-based drug paradigm uses a protein degradation strategy, not the more frequently used protein inhibition. This strategy holds several advantages, including the potential to target proteins that are not currently drug sensitive using a small molecule protein approach.This greatly expands the ability to create drugs for many new, previously unapproachable targets.

Prior to going public, Arvinas partnered with other bigger companies, including Genentech. In January 2018, Arvinas sealed a deal with Pfizer to discover and develop drug candidates using PROTAC. As part of the plan, Arvinas was responsible for the discovery program while Pfizer handled the clinical development and commercialization of any products identified. Arvinas was to receive up to $830 million in upfront and development and commercialization milestone payments, along with tiered royalties.

At the time, John Ludwig, Head of Medicinal Sciences at Pfizer, stated, “Protein degradation is an area of considerable interest for us, and we look forward to working with Arvinas to determine the potential applicability of this approach across multiple therapeutic areas.”

Protein degradation seems to be the new hot kid on the block where drug development is concerned. Other companies, such as C4 Therapeutics, Kymera Therapeutics, and BenevolentAI being involved in similar research programs. Pfizer, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis have such programs, which can mean only one thing: we will have protein degenerating drugs in the near future. This new funding Arvinas is receiving might determine how soon will that be.  

Ultimately, an aging population and increased prevalence of disease is fueling the digital transformation of healthcare. Healthcare startups will be instrumental in speeding up the delivery innovative treatments to market.

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