Singular focus on ROR1 earns VelosBio $137M to fund PhI ADC and other programs
Years after selling Acerta to AstraZeneca for $7 billion, largely on the promise of its BTK inhibitor, Dave Johnson has once again gathered hefty financial support behind a new cancer target.
Matrix Capital Management and Surveyor Capital are leading a $137 million round for VelosBio, which has recently begun a Phase I study for its lead antibody-drug conjugate targeted against ROR1. Johnson took up the CEO post in October 2018.
ROR1, or receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 1, is a transmembrane protein expressed in the early genesis of embryos. Researchers have posited that it’s leveraged by hematological and solid tumors that revert to “an embryonic transcriptional program,” as high levels of ROR1 expression have been found in multiple cancers.
Aside from VLS-101, an ADC, VelosBio is also developing bispecifics aimed at the target.
“We have made tremendous progress since founding the company in 2017, and this financing reflects strong support for our platform, people, and comprehensive development strategy,” Johnson said in a statement.
The new round pulled in a giant group. Arix Bioscience and Sofinnova Ventures, co-leaders of the $58 million Series A, returned with Decheng Capital, Pappas Capital and Takeda Ventures from that syndicate.
New investors include Adage Capital Management, Cormorant Asset Management, Farallon, Foresite Capital, Janus Henderson Investors, Logos Capital, OrbiMed, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Venrock Healthcare Capital Partners, Viking Global Investors, and Wellington Management Company.