May 07, 2008

VentureWire

Oncology Drug Co. Apoptos Picks Up $28M Series A

Oncology drug developer Apoptos Inc. has raised $28 million in Series A financing to reach the clinic with its first compound.Arch Venture Partners and Venrock led the round, joined by Advanced Technology Ventures and OrbiMed Advisors. The valuation of the company was not disclosed. James Schmidt, senior director for finance and administration for Apoptos, said the round is tranched, with roughly one-half upfront and the remainder coming in 12 months.Based in San Diego, Apoptos was founded last year around technology developed by John C. Reed, president and chief executive of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, focused on inducing apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in cancer tumors. Heading the business is Chief Executive and Chairman William H. Rastetter, who also is a partner at Venrock."Over the past several years, he's assembled some fine assets in the apoptosis space," ATV General Partner Jean George said about Rastetter. "And he's pulled together some really knowledgeable scientists in the space."Schmidt declined to say exactly what indications Apoptos is pursuing, but he said the company's technology is broad enough to cover a number of types of cancer. He said the round should give the company enough cushion to last two years, although he expects the company to reach the clinic before then. "We have hopes with the Series A to reach the clinic in about a year and a half," he said.George said it was important to keep Apoptos capitalized to reach the clinic - an important inflection point - rather than burden the company with additional fund-raising in the meantime. "We wanted to give them sufficient capital to reach that milestone," she said.As a result of the financing, Apoptos' board now consists of Rastetter; Robert T. Nelson, managing director at Arch; Christine A. White, former senior vice president for global medical affairs for Biogen Idec Inc.; and Mikael Dolsten, private equity partner at OrbiMed.Apoptos has 13 employees.