Tracon Raises $14M to Advance Cancer Drug

4/20/11Follow @bvbigelow

San Diego’s Tracon Pharmaceuticals says today it has raised $14 million of a planned $22 million round of venture capital needed to advance development of TRC105, a promising therapeutic that inhibits the growth of new blood vessels that supply tumors. The National Cancer Institute also is supporting the company’s research and development, which includes ongoing trials in prostate, bladder, and liver cancer.

JAFCO, the Tokyo-based, publicly traded venture capital group, and Nextech Invest, a specialized oncology fund based in Zurich, Switzerland, led the investment round. They were joined by New York-based Arcus Ventures and the Tokyo-based venture firm BHP. Existing investor Brookline Investments of Birmingham, AL, also participated.

In a statement from the company, Tracon CEO Charles Theuer says the funding will enable the company to build on promising early stage research and complete multiple mid-stage trials of the antibody TRC105. Tracon says it is testing the antibody on a new tumor vascular target known as CD-105, as both a monotherapy and in combination with existing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors as well as chemotherapy.

JAFCO’s Kenji Harada and Hironori Hozoji (a San Diego-based investment officer with JAFCO Life Science Investment) are joining Tracon’s board, along with Nextech managing partner Myoung-Ok Kwon. Tracon says two prominent oncologists, Harvard University’s William G. Kaelin and Charles L. Sawyers of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center also were named to the company’s scientific advisory board.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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