Novellus, Ltd., a Jerusalem-based clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on precision oncology and cancer treatment, announced on Monday that it has raised $57 million in a Series C financing round.
The round was led by Israeli life science venture capital firm Pontifax Ltd. and healthcare investment firm Orbimed Israel Partners Ltd. They were joined by HBM Healthcare Investments, Wellington Management, Cormorant Asset Management, Novartis Venture Fund (NVF), SR One, as well as existing investors.
Founded in 2011, Novellus develops highly selective medicines for functionally and genomically defined cancer patients. The clinical-stage drug development company focuses on the development of compounds for established oncogene drivers with a high incidence of uncharacterized mutations.
The company’s leading project is PLX-8394, an inhibitor currently in clinical development. Proceeds from the funding round will be used to finance the continued clinical development of this lead program.
PLX-8394 is a BRAF inhibitor with a differentiated mechanistic profile licensed from Plexxikon, a Daiichi Sankyo company, earlier this year. BRAF is a human gene that encodes a protein called B-Raf. PLX-8394’s development will focus on clinical settings for which there are currently no FDA-approved BRAF inhibitors, including BRAF fusions and certain BRAF-mutated gliomas.
The proceeds will also be used to fund the expansion of Novellus’ pipeline based on the company’s functional genomics platform.
“PLX-8394 was the first drug we identified using our platform as having an effect across a wide range of unique BRAF mutations,” said Gabi Tarcic chief technology officer of Novellus. “With this investment, we will extend this work to other genes and other compounds to create a unique pipeline.”
“We are pleased to partner with Novellus and support their important work in advancing groundbreaking drugs for hard-to-treat cancers. The company’s platform has the potential to support additional precision medicines for genetically defined subsets of cancer,” commented Ran Nussbaum, managing partner at Pontifax.