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Tarveda Nabs $30M More as Versant Helps Fund Cancer Drug Push

Xconomy Boston — 

A year after rebranding around a new clinical strategy, Tarveda Therapeutics has raised $30 million in help push its experimental cancer drugs through early clinical testing.

New investor Versant Ventures led the Series D round, which included earlier investors New Enterprise Associates, Novo A/S, NanoDimension, and Flagship Pioneering. The new capital for Watertown, MA-based Tarveda comes one year after the company raised a $38 million Series C.

Tarveda is developing a type of cancer drug it calls “Pentarins,” which are meant to help deliver cancer-killing toxins to tumors while sparing healthy tissue. The company describes these drugs as potent, selective, and miniaturized—their small size is their key feature. Pentarins are similar to a relatively new class of cancer drugs called antibody-drug conjugates, or ADCs, which link antibodies to anti-cancer toxins. Pentarins use smaller molecules instead—peptides—which Tarveda says enables its drugs to more easily penetrate tumor tissue and overcome some of the limitations of ADCs.

With the new cash, along with the capital raised last year, Tarveda says it will complete Phase 1 studies of its lead drug candidate PEN-221 and bring it into mid-stage clinical trials. That drug is being studied as a potential treatment for neuroendocrine and small cell lung cancers. Additionally, Tarveda plans to apply the cash toward Phase 1 studies of another drug candidate, PEN-866, which has potential applications in small cell lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and sarcoma.

Tarveda was previously known as known as Blend Therapeutics, a biotech that was focused on developing platinum-based chemotherapy drugs, along with the blending together—hence the company’s former name—of disparate cancer therapies. With the Series C fundraising last year, the company rebranded and turned its focus toward Pentarins.

Lung cancer metastasis image by the National Cancer Institute.