BioWorld International Correspondent
LONDON - Kudos Pharmaceuticals Ltd. raised £29.5 million (US$45.9 million) in third-round funding with plans to take its two lead cancer treatments through Phase II and push further compounds into Phase I.
Chief Financial Officer David Dally told BioWorld International: "We are absolutely delighted. We set our sights on £25 million, but once we got the syndicate together everyone wanted more. We ended up turning some away."
The lead investor was EuclidSR Partners, with Johnson & Johnson Development Corp., LSP-Life Science Partners and BankInvest Biomedical Venture also participating. The existing UK investors, Advent Venture Partners, Schroder Ventures Life Sciences and 3i Group plc, made follow-on investments.
Kudos, based in Cambridge, specializes in small-molecule inhibitors of DNA repair enzymes. The company said inhibiting repair mechanisms enhances the sensitivity of tumors to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The inhibitors also may possess anticancer activity in their own right.
Kudos' lead compound, PaTrin-2, an inhibitor of alkylguanine alkyl transferase, has completed Phase I. Two Phase II trials are planned with PaTrin-2 co-administered with the chemotherapeutic Temozolomide - one in metastatic melanoma, the other in colorectal cancer.
A second product, AQ4N, was in-licensed by the company and is a prodrug of a cell cytotoxin that is activated only in the hypoxic fractions of solid tumors.
Kudos notes that hypoxia is now recognized as a major cause of resistance of solid tumors to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. "We plan to do two Phase II trials of AQ4N, one with a chemotherapeutic and one with radiotherapy," Dally said.
The funding also will be used to advance the company's core drug discovery programs. It has discovered several selective small-molecule inhibitors of three DNA repair enzymes, and it expects one inhibitor of each enzyme to enter preclinical development over the next six to 12 months.
The technology is relevant to other disease areas including retroviral infections and stroke. "We won't take compounds forward in these areas ourselves and are already talking to other parties about licensing them at an early stage," Dally said.
The new round of funding will last for three years, the company said. "By this time we should have two compounds that have completed Phase II and two compounds in Phase I," Dally said. "At the moment, anything is possible in terms of how we then proceed in relation to further funding."
Kudos was formed in 1997 by Stephen Jackson, who worked at the University of Cambridge. The company raised £5 million in its first round in May 1999 and £8 million in August 2001.