Michael Heffernan, Avenge Bio CEO

Tak­ing notes from MD An­der­son and Rice Uni­ver­si­ty, Avenge Bio un­cloaks with $45M and a slate of im­munother­a­pies

Michael Hef­fer­nan was al­ready the head of a biotech com­pa­ny fo­cused on chron­ic pain, called Col­legium Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal, which he suc­cess­ful­ly brought pub­lic in 2015. But when his wife was di­ag­nosed with ovar­i­an can­cer, he knew that was his next mis­sion.

Hef­fer­nan’s wife is do­ing well — but un­for­tu­nate­ly, that isn’t the case for most pa­tients, he said. In 2018, he stepped down from Col­legium to look for a bet­ter op­tion for women with re­cur­rent re­frac­to­ry ovar­i­an can­cer. That’s when he met Rice Uni­ver­si­ty’s Omid Veiseh, who was work­ing on an im­munother­a­py plat­form with a physi­cian over at The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas MD An­der­son Can­cer Cen­ter.

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