Sequoia China leads $37M infusion into radiopharmaceuticals player setting up shop in China and Belgium
It’s not just American startups that are tuning into the rising interest in radiopharmaceuticals.
Sequoia China is leading a $37 million Series A into Full-Life Technologies, a biotech headquartered in Shanghai with offices in Brussels, Belgium, to develop a pipeline of radioactive cancer therapies.
The idea isn’t new: As clinicians started routinely deploying radiation to kill cancer cells, scientists and drugmakers have long been exploring ways to limit that powerful effect only to cancer cells while sparing healthy cells. But recent progress in the production of radioisotopes — coupled with big investments from Big Pharma, most notably Novartis and Bayer — has inspired a new wave of startups.
With production sites in Chengdu, China as well as Belgium, Full-Life wants to build an “end-to-end solution” to discover and develop some of the next-generation candidates, said Sequoia China managing director Trency Gu.
Like the rest of the field, the company is working on compounds that comprise two parts: a radioligand to kill tumor cells and a guiding molecule to bring them there. It has a number of options on the latter, with optimized single domain antibodies as well as peptides. Full-Life said it also has its own linkers to radionuclides, and pairs each development candidate with a theranostic nuclide to generate pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics data for better patient selection.
Its first targets are fibroblast activation protein (FAP), Claudin 18.2 and Guanylyl Cyclase C.
“The funds will enable us to advance our lead radiopharmaceutical compounds into first-in-human studies next year and accelerate the development of our global radioisotope production and logistics capabilities,” said co-founder, CEO and chairman Lanny Sun.
Sun, who’s also a partner at Gordian Ventures, sold his last company, a developer of a computational drug discovery platform named Silicon Therapeutics, to Roivant for $450 million in stock.
Also joining the syndicate are Yunion Healthcare Ventures, Junson Capital, CD Capital and Kunlun Capital.