Fusion raises $105m for radiopharmaceutical trials

Radiopharmaceuticals are already well established in imaging technology for a range of diseases – but their use to deliver a lethal dose of radiation to cancer cells is also gaining increased attention.

Bayer’s Xofigo (radium 223) was a trailblazer in this field following FDA approval in 2013 – a calcium mimic, the drug selectively binds to bone metastases in prostate cancer to deliver a localised dose of radiation.

Novartis has placed its big bet in therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals with its $3.9 billion buy of Advanced Accelerator Applications and its Lutathera (lutetium Lu 177 dotatate), approved by the FDA early last year for tumours known as GEP-NETS (gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours).

Now US-based Fusion Pharmaceuticals has raised $105 million in an oversubscribed second funding round to advance its work in the field. The company started off just two years ago with a $25 million launch round.

Led by Varian and new investor OrbiMed, additional investors participating in the round are Perceptive Advisors, Pivotal bioVenture Partners, and Rock Springs Capital.

They joined existing investors Healthcap, Adams Street Partners, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, TPG Biotech, Seroba Life Sciences, Genesys Capital, and FACIT.

Fusion, which is based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and Boston, Massachusetts, will use the funding to broaden the scope of a clinical programme investigating alpha therapeutics.

These use antibodies attached to an alpha particle emitter to seek out tumours, and deliver a dose of alpha radiation to the malignant tissue, while leaving healthy cells alone.

The lead drug in Fusion’s pipeline is [225Ac]-FPI-1434, which the company hopes to develop to target cancer cells across several tumour types.

Fusion’s drugs are based around a “linker” between the alpha emitter and the antibody, which promotes rapid excretion of isotopes that are not bound to cancer cells to limit off-target side effects.

Fusion’s CEO John Valliant, said: “The investment positions us to implement our clinical and partnering strategies around [225Ac]-FPI-1434, expand our team and fully exploit the unique advantages of our linker technology.”

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