Ad­vent Life Sci­ences launch­es two funds to­tal­ing $215M, and teams with Har­ring­ton Dis­cov­ery In­sti­tute to trans­late re­search

Long­time ear­ly-stage in­vestor Ad­vent Life Sci­ences has com­plet­ed two new funds, and they’re ready to spend the cash.

Ad­vent raised a com­bined $215 mil­lion be­tween the two, an­nounc­ing the rais­es ear­ly Thurs­day morn­ing. The VC firm is call­ing them the Ad­vent Life Sci­ences Fund III and the Ad­vent-Har­ring­ton Im­pact Fund, the sec­ond of which is run joint­ly by the Har­ring­ton Dis­cov­ery In­sti­tute, and is seek­ing rough­ly 15 to 18 new seed or Se­ries A in­vest­ments over the next four years or so.

Shahzad Ma­lik

“We’ve done this in the good times and the bad times, so we’ve al­ways stuck to our knit­ting,” Ad­vent gen­er­al part­ner Shahzad Ma­lik told End­points News. “The as­so­ci­a­tion now … is a nat­ur­al pro­gres­sion.”

Ma­lik isn’t say­ing how much each fund plans to dole out but not­ed they will in­vest in the same com­pa­nies at the same time. Some prof­its that come from the Har­ring­ton-part­nered fund will be fun­neled back to the in­sti­tute to sub­si­dize even more of their re­search, start­ing what Ma­lik hopes is a cy­cle ben­e­fit­ing both par­ties.

Ad­vent has fol­lowed its ear­ly-stage strat­e­gy since in­cep­tion and takes pride in help­ing build com­pa­nies from the ground up, Ma­lik said. It’s a dif­fer­ent kind of in­vest­ing than firms that main­ly fo­cus on fol­low-on rounds, which can be likened more to pick­ing the right stocks and dole out more mod­est re­turns.

The fo­cus of the new funds will large­ly be on drug dis­cov­ery, but Ad­vent will like­ly al­so chip in to med­ical de­vice com­pa­nies. Ma­lik’s main fo­cus? Find­ing a gem of re­search that can be trans­lat­ed in­to what he calls a “prod­uct en­gine,” which he says is more than just a new plat­form tech­nol­o­gy.

Ma­lik point­ed to­ward Ar­rakis Ther­a­peu­tics as one of the firm’s biggest prod­uct en­gine suc­cess­es, hav­ing se­cured a $190 mil­lion up­front pay­ment back in April in a deal with “sev­er­al bil­lion” in mile­stones, CEO Mike Gilman said at the time. The com­pa­ny aims to de­vel­op small mol­e­cules to in­hib­it dis­ease-caus­ing RNA.

“If you think about DNA as the code for your life and pro­teins as the build­ing blocks for your body, there’s an enor­mous gap in the mid­dle which is RNA,” Ma­lik said. “Peo­ple have his­tor­i­cal­ly used bits of DNA and RNA to ma­nip­u­late the cells of RNA,” but not with small mol­e­cules.

“That’s re­al­ly break­ing new ground; Ar­rakis is the first big play in that space,” Ma­lik added.

It’s still in the pre­clin­i­cal stage, but Ar­rakis’ abil­i­ty to ap­ply its tech­nol­o­gy to a wide ar­ray of ar­eas is the kind of thing Ad­vent looks for. Though not all biotechs can score Big Phar­ma deals in the range of Ar­rakis, Ad­vent is com­mit­ted to fol­low­ing the best and most promis­ing sci­en­tif­ic ap­proach­es.

The funds will like­ly stay away from the high­est-risk clin­i­cal in­di­ca­tions such as stroke and sep­sis, but Ma­lik is ready to in­vest in al­most any­thing else. And they’ve got­ten a head start al­ready, hav­ing in­vest­ed in a few com­pa­nies still in stealth mode.

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Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

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