Aiolos $245m Series A heads latest crop of biotech rounds

Aiolos $245m Series A heads latest crop of biotech rounds
Towfiqu barbhuiya

Biotech investment may be somewhat in the doldrums at the moment, but the sector continues to see a steady stream of deals – particularly in the venture capital category – with recent rounds for Aiolos Bio, Triveni Bio, Rampart Bioscience, Atom Bioscience, and Nykode Therapeutics.

A new US biotech, Aiolos Bio, has drawn in an impressive $245 million in Series A financing that will help it complete clinical testing of lead drug AIO-001 for moderate-to-severe asthma. The anti-TSLP antibody has been licensed from China’s Jiangsu Hengrui Pharmaceuticals, which has retained rights in its home market, and is heading for phase 2 testing.

Part of the proceeds from the first-round financing have gone towards licensing fees for the drug, which is in the same class as AstraZeneca’s Tezspire (tezepelumab), which was approved by the FDA for severe asthma in January and has been tipped as a future $1 billion-a-year product. The round was led by Atlas Venture, Bain Capital Life Sciences, Forbion Capital Partners, and Sofinnova, with additional investment from RA Capital Management.

Aiolos also plans to test AIO-001 in chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and other indications, including chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU).

Another US start-up, Triveni Bio, emerged from the shadows this week with a $92 million first round co-led by Atlas Venture and Cormorant Asset Management, with participation from OrbiMed, the private equity business of Viking Global Investors, Invus, Polaris Partners, Alexandria Venture Investments, and other investors. The company was formed by the merger of Amagma Therapeutics and Modify Therapeutics.

Triveni Bio’s lead antibody programme – preclinical-stage TRIV-509 – is directed at kallikreins 5 and 7, which have emerged as potential targets for the treatment of atopic dermatitis, asthma, and other immunology and inflammation indications. The funding will be used to take the drug through phase 2a proof-of-concept clinical trials and bring forward two more candidates from its pipeline during 2024.

Rampart Bioscience, a Californian biotech developing DNA-based medicines, added an $85 million Series A round to seed funding of $40 million. The company’s HALO platform is designed to generate “highly potent, durable, and redosable” DNA drugs, led by a candidate for the treatment of hypophosphatasia (HPP), a rare, often fatal genetic disease that prevents bone mineralisation that currently only has one approved treatment, AstraZeneca/Alexion’s Strensiq (asfotase alfa).

The biotech says HALO can produce DNA medicines that overcome the “key limitations and safety concerns of viral and early non-viral gene approaches”, which tend to be challenging to redose. Forbion led the round, with participation from founding seed investor OrbiMed and additional new investors RA Capital Management and HealthCap.

China’s Atom Bioscience swelled its coffers with an $83 million fourth-round financing – led by Kaitai Capital and supported by Fortune Capital, Huajin Investment, Unifortune, and NNFE Investment – which takes the total raised to date by the Jiangsu-based company to almost $165 million.

The cash injection will go towards pivotal clinical trials of ABP-671, an orally administered URAT1 inhibitor for chronic gout, as well as to bring forward other candidates in its pipeline of drugs for inflammatory and metabolic diseases. ABP-671 is in the same class as Ironwood Pharma’s Zurampic (lesinurad), which was approved by the FDA in 2015, but discontinued four years later for commercial reasons.

Finally, Oslo, Norway-based Nykode Therapeutics closed a NOK 505 million ($45 million) private placement of new shares that will support clinical studies of VB10.16, a therapeutic antigen-presenting cell-targeting DNA vaccine developed to treat HPV16-positive cancers. The vaccine is in phase 2 for cervical cancer and recently started a phase 1/2 trial in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).

The company said the private placement was aimed at broadening the existing shareholder base with international investors, ahead of a planned US listing in the future.