Startups, Venture

Three years after selling Acerta to AstraZeneca in $7B deal, Dave Johnson is back at the helm of a biotech startup

Dave Johnson

Three years ago Dave Johnson steered Acerta to a $7 billion buyout deal with AstraZeneca, setting up a relatively quickly transition of acalabrutinib into the oncology market, where it’s now sold as Calquence.

Now, Johnson is back at the helm of a new biotech startup, and he’s still interested in doing something new in the sizzling cancer R&D field — this time focusing on antibody-drug conjugates. Johnson has a $58 million A round to get started.

Word arrived Monday morning that Johnson is at the helm of a company called VelosBio, which is pursuing antibody-drug conjugates.

Langdon Miller

Arix Bioscience — which snagged an 11.2% interest for $11 million — and Sofinnova Ventures led the round. Pappas Ventures and Chiesi Ventures joined existing investors Takeda Ventures and Decheng Capital.

The CMO is Langdon Miller, who worked at a slate of biotechs, including a 2-year stint at Gilead, where he was VP of clinical research for oncology.


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