Pheon Therapeutics launched today (September 28) following the closing of a $68 million series A funding back in March. The investment will allow antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) specialist Pheon to advance its lead ADC program to clinical proof-of-concept and establish of novel ADCs.
The financing was led by Brandon Capital, Forbion and Atlas Venture, with participation from seed investor Research Corporation Technologies (RCT).
Pheon develops ADCSs for a wide range of hard-to-treat cancers and its lead program exploits a target that is highly expressed in a broad range of solid tumors.
Safety and efficacy
The lead compound is expected to reach investigational new drug (IND) status within the next 18 months. Understanding there is no ‘one size fits all’ in engineering ADCs, Pheon says it takes a methodical approach to ADC development.
Using both new and clinically validated mAbs and arming them either with warheads from its payload platform which has a mechanism of action or with off-the-shelf linker payload combinations, Pheon says it is finely attuned to balancing safety and efficacy for each target.
Chief executive officer, Bertrand Damour, heads Pheon Therapeutics’ leadership team which includes industry veteran Leigh Zawel as chief scientific officer. Pheon Therapeutics’ co-founders include Paul Jackson, vice president research and development, and advisor David Thurston. Thurston was previously co-founder of Spirogen, whose payload technology is contained within Zynlonta, a recently approved antibody-drug conjugate.
Treatments for cancer patients
Damour has more than 20 years’ management experience in both the European and US biotech industries. He said: “Pheon is developing a first-in-class ADCand has built a highly differentiated proprietary payload platform which is gaining strong momentum.
“We are laser-focused on implementing our strategy to get our first program into clinical development as rapidly as possible and the preclinical data generated so far are very promising. The track record and expertise of the leadership team at Pheon is outstanding and I am proud to be working with them on this innovative approach to developing treatments for cancer patients.”
Dr Leigh Zawel has over two decades of oncology drug discovery experience. He said: “ADC technology has reached an inflection point. At Pheon, I’m thrilled to be working with Bertrand and with the team that we have assembled which has deep technical expertise and the resources to develop the next generation of ADCs to positively impact the lives of patients with cancer.”
Cutting edge therapeutics
On behalf of Pheon’s board, chair Jonathan Tobin and partner at Brandon Capital, said: “In the last few years ADC drugs have started to show unprecedented clinical efficacy through a better understanding of the properties that make an effective ADC, combined with next generation payloads and targets.
“We are excited by the potential of Pheon’s first-in-class antibody target coupled with its novel proprietary payload platform to make a significant contribution to the ADC field and cancer patients.
“Pheon has attracted a strong syndicate of investors with the likes of Brandon Capital, Forbion and Atlas, and a proven leadership team focused on rapidly bringing its first-in-class ADC to the clinic. We look forward to extending the benefit of these cutting-edge therapeutics to more patients through target and payload innovation at Pheon.”