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28 May 2024

King's biotech spinout Pheon Therapeutics Raises $120m to develop novel anticancer agents

The investment raised at the close of its Series B funding round will enable Pheon Therapeutics (Pheon) to take three new Antibody-Drug Conjugates (ADCs), used to treat cancer, through clinical trials.

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Pheon Therapeutics, a biotech spinout with its origins in research carried out at the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (IPS) at King’s, has raised $120 million in Series B funding to further develop its pre-clinical and clinical pipeline.

The latest financing was led by medicines investment firm TCGX with participation from other new investors BVF Partners, Lightspeed and Perceptive Advisors, alongside existing investors Atlas Venture, Brandon Capital, Forbion, and Research Corporation Technologies.

Pheon is focused on the development of specialised ADCs. The first ADC Pheon will test has demonstrated an unprecedented preclinical therapeutic index while utilising a DAR8 Topoisomerase-1 inhibitor linker-payload, whereas the next two ADCs utilise other linker-payload technologies to mine the broad potential of this target.

Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) combine targeted antibody therapy with highly active anticancer drugs, delivering treatment specifically to cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue. This targeted approach enhances efficacy and significantly reduces side effects, offering an exciting and promising advancement in cancer treatment."

Professor Miraz Rahman, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry

The company expects to start its first Phase 1 clinical trial in 2024 and rapidly advance towards dose expansion cohorts. The capital will also enable the expansion of Pheon’s suite of in-house technology platforms to generate optimized ADC constructs.

This raise is a critical step as we transition into a clinical-stage company. The proceeds will fund a robust clinical development pathway for our first three ADC assets, which are based on an exceptional novel target. We are excited to be working on these promising candidates and look forward to sharing their potential therapeutic benefits with patients.”

Cyrus Mozayeni MD, Chief Executive Officer of Pheon

Pheon previously raised $68 million in Series A funding in 2022. The company evolved from a King’s spinout company based on the academic research of Professor David Thurston, who is now Emeritus Professor of Drug Discovery, and Professor Miraz Rahman, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the IPS and Dr Paul Jackson, a research associate at IPS. Professor Thurston is now an advisor to Pheon Therapeutics.

There is still a strong research link between Pheon Therapeutics and King’s, as Pheon is an industrial sponsor for an MRC-DTP-i-CASE studentship, which allows postgraduate research students to receive high quality research training with the additional benefit of working closely with an industrial partner. The studentship is in Professor Rahman’s academic laboratory and focuses on developing novel topoisomerase I inhibitors as ADC payloads.

In this story

David  Thurston

Emeritus Professor of Drug Discovery

Miraz  Rahman

Professor of Medicinal Chemistry