NEW HAVEN, Conn., Sept. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Arvinas Inc., a biotechnology company creating a new class of drugs based on protein degradation, today announced it has raised $15 million in Series A funds and $4.25 million in financial support, $1 million of which is in the form of equity, from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development and Connecticut Innovations. Investors in the Series A round include co-leads Canaan Partners and 5AM Ventures along with Connecticut Innovations and Elm Street Ventures. The funds will support the development of the company's technology which has primary application in multiple oncology indications and potential in inflammatory, autoimmune and rare diseases.
Arvinas is built on the research of Craig Crews, PhD, Lewis B. Cullman Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and professor of Chemistry and Pharmacology at Yale University. The new drugs being developed by Arvinas would induce a cell's own protein-degradation capabilities to bind to a particular protein and "label" it for degradation, thus removing a protein from the system entirely. This contrasts to a more traditional drug development approach that inhibits proteins. However, only 25 percent of the body's 20,000 proteins can be inhibited. Proteins that cannot be inhibited can potentially be degraded using Arvinas' approach, radically expanding the number of disease-causing proteins that can become the targets of new drugs.
"Degrading proteins as opposed to inhibiting them has potential to open up areas of drug development that were previously closed because of the technical limitations of protein inhibition," said Tim Shannon, MD, CEO of Arvinas and Venture Partner at Canaan Partners. "The Arvinas technology platform represents an entirely new class of drugs bringing an innovative approach to treating disease."
"In addition to the fact that a very large portion of proteins cannot be blocked, inhibition is not permanent, so a disease-causing protein can eventually become active again after treatment with a drug," said Dr. Crews. "To effectively stop cancer, a drug-binding site must be inhibited 95 percent of the time, which is currently difficult to achieve. If a protein is removed entirely, that should overcome this problem."
Arvinas also announced the formation of a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), which will help guide the development of its novel approach. Members of the SAB include Daniel D. Von Hoff, MD, Chief, distinguished professor and director of clinical translational research division at the Translational Genomics Research Institute and Chief Scientific Officer for US Oncology; Mark Murcko, PhD, former Chief Technology Officer at Vertex Pharmaceuticals; Thomas J. Lynch, Jr., MD, Director of the Yale Cancer Center and Physician-in-chief at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven; Richard Ulevitch, Venture Partner 5AM and Professor and Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Immunology at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California; and Peter Farina, PhD, executive in residence at Canaan Partners and former Senior Vice-President of Development at Boehringer Ingelheim.
Arvinas worked with the Yale Office of Cooperative Research (OCR) to secure intellectual property protection for the technology.
"The Arvinas team has lined up an impressive slate of supporters of the unique technology that comes out of Yale University," noted John Soderstrom, PhD, Managing Director of the Office of Cooperative Research at Yale and a member of Arvinas' Board of Directors. "Degrading proteins that are driving disease has the potential to bring about drastic changes in drug development, and we anticipate significant interest from pharmaceutical companies."
Joining Dr. Shannon and Dr. Soderstrom on the Arvinas Board of Directors will be Kush Parmar, MD PhD and a Principal at 5AM Ventures and Brad Margus, the CEO of Genome Bridge and former CEO of Envoy Therapeutics.
About the Yale Office of Cooperative Research
The Yale Office of Cooperative Research works with faculty to realize the commercial potential of their discoveries through licensing of intellectual property, identification of opportunities to partner with corporate sponsors of research and facilitating the formation of new ventures based on Yale's intellectual property. Learn more at http://www.yale.edu/ocr.
Arvinas Inc. is creating a new class of drugs based on protein degradation, which has the potential to open up areas of drug development that were previously closed because of the technical limitations of target inhibition. The company's technology is built on the research of Craig Crews, PhD of Yale University and has primary application in oncology indications as well as potential in inflammatory, autoimmune and rare diseases. http://www.arvinas.com/
SOURCE Arvinas Inc.