LONDON, April 2, 2019 /PRNewswire/ --
THIS ANNOUNCEMENT CONTAINS INSIDE INFORMATION WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE EU MARKET ABUSE REGULATION NO.596/2014
- Arix's total interest in Aura increases to £8.5 million from £3.9 million
- Arix commits $4.5 million (£3.4 million) to increase its stake to 7.7%
- Proceeds to be used to support late stage clinical development; Phase 3 trial expected to start in H1 2020
Arix Bioscience plc ("Arix") (LSE: ARIX) a global venture capital company focused on investing and building breakthrough biotech companies, today announces that it has committed $4.5 million (£3.4 million) to the $40 million (£31 million) Series D financing ("the financing") of Aura Biosciences ("Aura"), a leader in the development of novel targeted therapies in ocular oncology.
Following this commitment, Arix increases its stake to 7.7% on a fully diluted basis. Arix Investment Director Mark Chin will continue to serve on the Aura Board. The financing recognised a 33% uplift in the book value of Arix's Series C investment in Aura, with Arix's total interest in Aura increasing to £8.5 million from £3.9 million on a fully committed basis.
Aura plans to use the proceeds from the Series D to support the late stage clinical development of its lead asset, light-activated AU-011, for the treatment of primary choroidal melanoma. The currently available treatments for choroidal melanoma come with the risk of severe vision loss and other long-term sequelae, especially for patients with melanomas located close to the fovea or optic disk. The ongoing Phase 1b/2 study with light-activated AU-011 has shown that the drug was well-tolerated, with clear evidence of tumor control and preservation of visual acuity at long term follow up, even in high risk patients. Aura has been granted Orphan Drug and Fast Track status from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and expects to initiate a registration trial in 2020.
Medicxi served as the lead new investor. In addition to Arix, Aura's existing investors Lundbeckfonden Ventures, Advent Life Sciences, Chiesi Ventures, Ysios Capital, Alexandria Venture Investments, Columbus Venture Partners, LI-COR Biosciences and several individual investors, including the estate of Henri Termeer, participated in the financing.
Joe Anderson, Chief Executive Officer of Arix, commented:
"Aura has made significant clinical progress with its lead candidate in development for primary choroidal melanoma, a rare and aggressive eye cancer, and is preparing for a Phase 3 study. We look forward to working alongside the world class management team and new and existing investors to accelerate development of this potential new treatment."
Elisabet de los Pinos, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Aura, commented:
"The additional funding provided by this Series D financing enables Aura to continue to execute on our goals of developing the first targeted treatment for patients with primary choroidal melanoma, a life and vision threatening rare disease with no drugs approved. We are delighted to have the continued support from Arix, and our new and existing investors, as we enter this next stage of growth for the Company."
About Arix Bioscience plc
Arix Bioscience plc is a global venture capital company focused on investing in and building breakthrough biotech companies around cutting edge advances in life sciences.
We collaborate with exceptional entrepreneurs and provide the capital, expertise and global networks to help accelerate their ideas into important new treatments for patients. As a listed company, we are able to bring this exciting growth phase of our industry to a broader range of investors.
About Aura Biosciences
Aura Biosciences is developing a new class of therapies to selectively target and destroy cancer cells. Its lead program, AU-011 in primary choroidal melanoma, is being developed under a CRADA with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health. For more information, visit http://www.aurabiosciences.com.
About Choroidal Melanoma
Choroidal melanoma is a rare and aggressive type of eye cancer. Choroidal melanoma is the most common primary intraocular tumor in adults and develops in the uveal tract of the eye. No targeted therapies are available at present, and current radiotherapy treatments can be associated with severe visual loss and other long-term sequelae such as dry eye, glaucoma, cataracts and radiation retinopathy. The most common current treatment is plaque radiotherapy, which involves surgical placement of a radiation device on the exterior of the eye over the tumor. The alternative is enucleation, or total surgical removal of the eye. Choroidal melanoma metastasizes in approximately 50 percent of cases with liver involvement in 80-90% of cases and, unfortunately, metastatic disease is universally fatal (source: OMF). There is a very high unmet need for a new vision sparing targeted therapy that could enable early treatment intervention for this life-threatening rare disease given the lack of approved therapies, and the comorbidities of radioactive treatment options.
About Light-Activated AU-011
AU-011 is a first-in-class targeted therapy in development for the primary treatment of choroidal melanoma. The therapy consists of proprietary viral-like particle bioconjugates (VPB) that are activated with an ophthalmic laser. The VPBs bind selectively to unique receptors on cancer cells in the eye and are derived from technology originally pioneered by Dr. John Schiller of the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), recipient of the 2017 Lasker-DeBakey Award. Upon activation with an ophthalmic laser, the drug rapidly and specifically disrupts the cell membrane of tumor cells while sparing key eye structures, which may allow for the potential of preserving patients' vision and reducing other long-term complications of radiation treatment. AU-011 can be delivered using equipment commonly found in an ophthalmologist's office and does not require a surgical procedure, pointing to a potentially less invasive, more convenient therapy for patients and physicians. AU-011 for the treatment of choroidal melanoma has been granted orphan drug and fast track designations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is currently in clinical development.
 All amounts shown are at an exchange rate of GBP 1.00 : USD 1.31
SOURCE Arix Bioscience plc