With New Funding, Avelas Moves Closer to a Color-Coded Map of Cancer

1/9/14Follow @bvbigelow

San Diego’s Avelas Biosciences says today it has closed on $6.85 million in Series B financing to advance the use of fluorescing peptides that can be used during breast cancer surgery to illuminate cancerous tissue.

The new round brings the startup’s total funding to about $14 million since 2009, when Avelas was founded by Roger Tsien, a Noble laureate at UC San Diego, and Kevin Kinsella of San Diego’s Avalon Ventures. Avalon, which provided initial funding, was joined in the latest round by new investors Torrey Pines Investment, WuXi AppTec, and an unnamed investor.

Avelas will use the capital to move its lead molecule, AVB-620, through a number of “first-in-patient” cases needed to show proof-of-concept, said Avelas CEO Carmine Stengone in a recent phone interview. The company is moving rapidly toward a big inflection point in terms of gathering the necessary data, Stengone said. “The goal is to have our IND [Investigational New Drug application] on file by mid-year.” First-in-patient cases could be done after that, with data expected sometime in 2015.

Stengone also serves as CEO of the reconstituted Afraxis, an Avalon portfolio company with technology to assess the effectiveness of potential drug compounds in disorders of the central nervous system. It is operating more as a service business, however, and Stengone said he plans to spend the “vast majority” of his time at Avelas.

UC San Diego’s Tsien, who shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in chemistry for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, opened the door for the technology now under development at Avelas by … Next Page »

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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