Syncona leads £32.0 million Series B financing of Azeria Therapeutics with a £29.5 million commitment
Opportunity to address a significant unmet need in oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer patients in lead programme and to build a world class pioneer factor oncology company
LONDON, Nov. 21, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Azeria Therapeutics (Azeria), a newly formed pioneer factor drug discovery company, today announced a £32 million Series B financing in which Syncona has committed £29.5 million alongside existing investor the CRT Pioneer Fund.
Azeria was originally founded in 2017 by Sixth Element Capital, manager of the CRT Pioneer Fund and Cancer Research UK's Commercial Partnerships team with the aim of building a world class pioneer factor oncology company, developing breakthrough treatments for hormone resistant breast cancer patients. It was based on the work of leading expert in the field, Professor Jason Carroll at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge, UK, whose scientific insights have led to a new approach to target FOXA1 driven cancer.
FOXA1 is an essential pioneer factor which has been shown to be pivotal in the tumour growth, progression and maintenance of oestrogen receptor positive luminal breast cancer. This is an area of significant unmet patient need where approximately 30 per cent of patients progress to late stage endocrine resistant disease and where there is potential for new treatments to have significant impacts for patients not addressed by existing therapeutics. Extensive target validation and drug discovery work to date supports the lead programme, with a plan to take the programme into the clinic over the course of the Series B funding. Azeria is seeking to develop the programme to commercialisation and to explore a pipeline of further programmes in oncology.
Azeria received initial investment of £5.5 million in Series A financing from the CRT Pioneer Fund, which focuses on early stage investments in highly innovative oncology programmes. Syncona is the largest investor in the CRT Pioneer Fund and will now participate directly in the next stage of growth and development. Magda Jonikas and Martin Murphy of Syncona will now join the Board of Azeria.
Stephen Myatt, Chief Executive Officer of Azeria Therapeutics said: "Azeria is the product of more than ten years of research by Professor Jason Carroll at Cancer Research UK's Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge and was created to accelerate research and development into pioneer factors, a completely new target class in oncology including FOXA1. We would like to thank Sixth Element Capital for their continued support and look forward to working closely with Syncona to accelerate the development of breakthrough treatments for hormone resistant breast cancer patients."
Martin Murphy, Chief Executive of Syncona Investment Management Limited, said: "Azeria is an exciting company and a perfect fit for Syncona's long term strategy building globally leading healthcare companies. Based on unique, proprietary scientific insight, with a world class academic founder and high-quality team, the company has an opportunity to develop and commercialise treatments which could make a significant difference for patients. The Sixth Element team did an excellent job in identifying and investing in this science to take it to the point where it became an exciting and appropriate opportunity for Syncona."
About Azeria Therapeutics:
Azeria Therapeutics is the world's first pioneer factor drug discovery company developing breakthrough treatments for hormone resistant breast cancer patients where there are significant areas of unmet clinical need.
Founded in 2017 by the leading expert in pioneer factors in cancer, Prof Jason Carroll, Azeria is developing a pipeline of small molecules designed to selectively inhibit pioneer factors.
Azeria is initially targeting the pioneer factor FOXA1, which has shown to be pivotal in the tumour development and maintenance of oestrogen receptor (ER) positive luminal breast cancer.
Based in Cambridge UK, Azeria previously raised £5.5 million in a Series A financing, provided by specialist oncology investment fund, the CRT Pioneer Fund, managed by Sixth Element Capital LLP.
About Sixth Element Capital LLP and the CRT Pioneer Fund:
Sixth Element Capital LLP (6EC) is a UK based fund manager, which manages the CRT Pioneer Fund. 6EC's experienced partners focus on creative and collaborative novel financing solutions designed to fund and manage innovative science in order to bring new therapeutic products and technologies to market, creating long term value and benefit to stakeholders.
The CRT Pioneer Fund is a specialist oncology investment fund established by 6EC in 2012. The £70 million fund is dedicated to investments in oncology development programmes in Europe. The fund was established to bridge the investment gap between cancer drug discovery and early clinical development. To date the Fund has made twelve oncology drug investments.
Syncona is a leading FTSE250 healthcare company focused on founding, building and funding a portfolio of global leaders in life science. Its vision is to build a sustainable, diverse portfolio of 15 - 20 companies focused on delivering transformational treatments to patients in truly innovative areas of healthcare, through which it is seeking to deliver strong risk-adjusted returns for shareholders.
Syncona seeks to partner with the best, brightest and most ambitious minds in science to build globally competitive businesses. It takes a long-term view, underpinned by a strategic capital base which provides it with control and flexibility over the management of its portfolio. Syncona focuses on delivering dramatic efficacy for patients in areas of high unmet need.
 A pioneer factor is a specialised type of transcription factor, able to 'open' compacted DNA to which is a protein that can initiate the expression of genes to make sure they are expressed in the right cell at the right time. Changes in these specific expression patterns can drives certain cancers.