PharmaShots Interview: Pyxis Oncology's Dr. Lara S. Sullivan and Dr. Ronald Herbst Share Insights on the Importance of Series B Funding to Advance their Portfolio
In an interview with PharmaShots, Dr. Lara S. Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer, and Dr. Ronald Herbst, Chief Scientific Officer of Pyxis Oncology share insight on the importance of Series B funding and shed light on the company's strategy and near-term goals.
- Pyxis Oncology reported that it raised $152M in a series B on the heels of multiple in-licensing deals. The financing was led by Arix Biosciences, co-led by RTW Investments, LP, and features other high-quality investors
- The company plans on leveraging its new influx of capital to advance its multiplatform approach in two of the hottest areas in oncology, ADCs, and immunotherapies
- Pyxis is planning for IND submissions for two of its ADCs in the middle of 2022 and expects clinical trials to commence shortly thereafter. The third ADC IND submission is expected by the end of 2022
Tuba: Discuss the Series B funding. What does it mean to the company?
Lara & Ronald: The closing of our $152 million Series B financing enables us to further advance our differentiated antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) and immuno-oncology (I/O) programs to the next value inflection point. We also plan on scaling the company to support the expanded pipeline, with a particular focus on building out the medical, CMC, and preclinical safety capabilities.
Tuba: Can you name the investors behind the Series B funding?
Lara & Ronald: Our Series B financing was led by Arix Bioscience and co-led by RTW Investments LP, with participation from additional new investors, including Perceptive Advisors, RA Capital Management, Pfizer Ventures, BVF Partners, L.P., Janus Henderson Investors, Cormorant Asset Management, HBM Healthcare Investments, funds managed by Tekla Capital Management LLC, Acuta Capital Partners, Ridgeback Capital Investments, Surveyor Capital (a Citadel company), Laurion Capital Management, Logos Capital, and LifeSci Venture Partners.
Tuba: How is Pyxis Oncology going to use the funding for the advancement of its biological portfolio?
Lara & Ronald: This funding will support Pyxis organizational growth and pipeline evolution. We plan to use the proceeds to advance our ADC candidates including PYX-201 and PYX-203, both in-licensed from Pfizer, and PYX-202, recently in-licensed from LegoChem Biosciences. We will also continue advancing our I/O pipeline to pursue a broad range of therapeutic indications.
Importantly, this financing strengthens our ability to build a differentiated portfolio of biologics and allows us to accelerate our efforts to advance multiple promising programs into Phase 1 clinical trials. We are extremely grateful for the support of our investors in this endeavor.
Tuba: Are you looking for more investors to advance your portfolio of ADCs and immunotherapies? If yes, how can one connect with you?
Lara & Ronald: We value the interest of investors who are keen to understand more about our company and pipeline of biologics for difficult-to-treat cancers. We are available to answer any questions you may have and encourage you to contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuba: Give a glance at your robust pipeline. When can we expect your first program in the clinical phase?
Lara & Ronald: We are planning for IND submissions for two of our ADCs in the middle of 2022 and expect clinical trials to commence shortly thereafter. Our third ADC IND submission is expected towards the end of 2022. We are also continuing to advance our IO preclinical programs and expect to select preclinical candidates in the middle of 2021. Over the next five years, we will continue to advance our assets while expanding and refining our portfolio by identifying the most promising cancer treatments.
Tuba: What is your strategy to fight against cancer?
Lara & Ronald: Pyxis is a multi-platform company developing an innovative portfolio of biologics, including ADCs and immunotherapies for patients with difficult-to-treat cancer. The company was founded around novel tumor biology built on the work of University of Chicago researcher and clinician Thomas Gajewski, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder of Pyxis. His work on understanding the tumor microenvironment led to the discovery of several promising targets that could vastly improve the current standard of care. Our ADCs was developed by Pfizer and LegoChem Biosciences and then in-licensed by us. They too are designed to work in a targeted fashion in the tumor microenvironment.
Our ADCs use site-specific conjugation technology to improve the stability and activity of these drugs, which could potentially reduce side effects while improving efficacy. Traditionally ADCs work from the inside-out: after being internalized by cancer cells, they release their toxic payload. One of our ADCs works from the outside-in: its toxin is released in the tumor microenvironment first and then travels into the cancer cells. This new approach could be used to target a range of difficult-to-treat tumors.
While currently marketed immunotherapies represent a significant improvement in the standard of care, they focus only on a handful of targets. Our platforms aim to close this gap by identifying novel regulators of immune activity and developing drugs capable of targeting them to reengage the immune system and fight cancer. We are not disclosing the targets at this time but look forward to announcing them once we are closer to the clinic.
Tuba: Can we expect more license agreements/collaborations in 2021 and the coming years?
Lara & Ronald: We look forward to continuing to leverage our deep ties to the broader pharmaceutical industry to evaluate the potential for mutually beneficial partnerships and licensing agreements.
Tuba: Share the company's near-term goal, achievements with our readers/subscribers?
Lara & Ronald: The company's near-term focus is to execute on both the recently in-licensed ADC pipeline and our advancing home-grown IO pipeline, to enable us to get these programs as quickly as possible to patients with difficult-to-treat cancers. We recently announced a partnership and worldwide licensing agreement with Pfizer to develop multiple ADCs and expand our ADC portfolio using Pfizers ADC toolkit. Additionally, we partnered with LegoChem Biosciences to in-license a third ADC candidate along with the others from Pfizer to round out our portfolio.
These agreements allow us to advance multiple promising ADC assets while continuing to develop our in-house organic immuno-oncology (I/O) programs while also bringing us another step closer to achieving our vision to bring new treatment options to patients with difficult-to-treat cancers.
Main Source: Emergency Physicians Monthly
Dr. Lara S. Sullivan is the Chief Executive Officer of Pyxis Oncology. Lara holds an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, an M.B.A. from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Cornell University.
Dr. Ronald Herbst is the Chief Scientific Officer of Pyxis Oncology. Ronald conducted his postdoctoral research in the Department of Biology at Stanford University. He obtained his Ph.D. at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, with research conducted at the Max-Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Axel Ullrichs Laboratory. Ronald has (co)-authored more than 100 publications and is co-inventor on 17 pending or granted patents.
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