BERKELEY, Calif.--()--Aduro BioTech, a privately held biotechnology company focused on the development of therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines based on proprietary recombinant strains of the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, today announced completion of its Series A-1 financing. Individual investors, including senior management of the company, provided a $2 million equity round. Aduro has also secured an additional $2.7 million in funding through grants and contracts from the Department of Defense for development of a therapeutic vaccine for Hepatitis C, and from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (via the University of New Mexico) for the development of a prophylactic vaccine against the bio-terror agent that causes tularemia.
“The current round of funding will allow us to advance our therapeutic vaccines program, which is currently focused on the treatment of Hepatitis C infection and prostate cancer”
Aduro will use the new capital to complete the acquisition of key intellectual property from Cerus Corporation and the former Anza Therapeutics, and to support late stage pre-clinical development prior to initiating clinical trials. Aduro anticipates filing an investigational new drug (IND) application with the FDA in fourth quarter of 2010 to begin Phase 1 clinical trials in patients chronically infected with the Hepatitis C virus. Anza Therapeutics previously conducted three FDA approved Phase 1 clinical trials, including two cancer trials, and Aduro will expand upon these programs in its future clinical studies.
“The current round of funding will allow us to advance our therapeutic vaccines program, which is currently focused on the treatment of Hepatitis C infection and prostate cancer,” said Stephen T. Isaacs, Aduro’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We believe these two important diseases are appropriate for the initial application of the Listeria technology, and we plan to leverage this versatile platform for many other applications.
Mr. Isaacs added, “We’re very pleased to have raised the necessary capital to continue this promising program started by Cerus and Anza, especially given the current economic environment. The willingness of our investors to support our efforts is a testament to the scientific team and the potential of the Listeria platform.”
Dr. Mike Powell, general partner of Sofinnova Ventures and a former board member and Chairman of Anza Therapeutics added, “I’m very pleased that Aduro has acquired the Listeria vaccine technology, and I believe the company is in a strong position to move it forward. The Listeria approach is potentially very powerful, and may indeed have blockbuster potential.”
Aduro has developed a proprietary approach to therapeutic vaccines that the company believes will enable it to quickly and efficiently produce a portfolio of promising vaccines for both cancer and infectious diseases. Aduro anticipates entering human clinical trials within twelve months and providing important human proof-of-concept results by 2011.
Key to Aduro’s approach is the intracellular bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, which Aduro scientists have genetically engineered to enhance both safety and efficacy. Listeria is an ideal delivery platform to enable the human immune system to recognize a specific antigen and rally an attack against it. The Listeria approach overcomes many of the current limitations of other therapeutic vaccine platforms by potentially providing superior potency, the ability for repeat administration, and low manufacturing costs. Aduro has demonstrated strong immune responses against multiple targets following a series of vaccinations in animal models, including demonstrated efficacy for both prevention and treatment in multiple tumor models. A further advantage is the ability to use the same proprietary Listeria strain to construct multiple vaccines, which can potentially simplify development and regulatory review, thereby accelerating time to product approval.
“There are obvious advantages to Aduro’s technology, in that Listeria vaccines stimulate both the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system, which make them extremely potent agents. And significantly, the Listeria vaccines have demonstrated the key ability to break tolerance in rigorous pre-clinical disease models” said Drew Pardoll, MD, PhD, the co-director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center and Seraph Professor of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Pardoll, who will chair Aduro’s Scientific Advisory Board and who has been associated with the Listeria program since 2002, added, “I’m very pleased that Aduro has acquired the Listeria technology and I look forward to working with the Aduro scientific team to further develop this important vaccine platform.” Joining Dr. Pardoll on the Scientific Advisory Board are Dr. Daniel Portnoy, who is Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of California at Berkeley, and Dr. Thomas Dubensky, Chief Scientific Officer of Immune Design Corporation, both of whom have worked with the Aduro team for several years in developing the Listeria vaccine platforms and advancing product candidates to human clinical trials.
About Aduro Biotech
Aduro is a privately held biotechnology company committed to developing safer and more effective options for patients in disease areas with substantial unmet medical needs. Aduro’s current focus is to develop novel therapeutic and prophylactic vaccine technologies based on the intracellular bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, which are being designed to harness the power of the immune system against cancer and infectious disease. Aduro’s active development programs include therapeutic vaccines against Hepatitis C and prostate cancer. A recent television story concerning Aduro’s vaccine development program was presented by KTVU and may be viewed at http://www.ktvu.com/news/21567552/detail.html.