Avalon Ventures/GSK Collaboration Launches Two New Companies

Avalon Ventures, a venture capital firm, has launched two new companies formed through its collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to fund and launch up to 10 early-stage life science companies. Silarus Therapeutics, Inc. and Thyritope Biosciences, Inc. each will receive up to $10 million in Series A financing and R&D support from Avalon Ventures and GSK. Both companies will be located at COI Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, the entity established by Avalon Ventures to provide operational support, a fully equipped R&D facility and a leadership team to its life-science portfolio of companies.

Silarus Therapeutics is developing therapeutics targeting erythroferrone for the treatment of iron deficiency and iron overload disorders. Erythroferrone is a hormone that regulates the iron supply for red blood cell production. Thyritope Biosciences is developing therapeutics that target thyroid stimulating auto-antibodies, which are the causative drivers of Graves’ hyperthyroidism and Graves’ orbitopathy. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder caused by antibodies that over-stimulate the thyroid, causing excessive thyroid hormone production.

The collaboration between Avalon Ventures and GSK was established in April 2013 to provide up to $495 million to fund a total of 10 new companies through preclinical proof of concept. The first company launched through the collaboration, Sitari Pharmaceuticals, established in November 2013, is targeting the transglutaminase 2 (TG2) pathway for the development of treatments for multiple disease indications, with an initial focus in celiac disease.

Based on the terms of the Avalon-GSK collaboration established in April 2013, Avalon will provide Silarus and Thyritope with executive leadership and operational management consistent with its current portfolio strategy. GSK has the option to acquire each of the companies upon the identification of a clinical candidate. Should GSK elect not to exercise this option on any of the companies, ownership of those companies will remain with Avalon, and Avalon will be free to enter into other strategic transactions This unique model of bringing venture capital together with academia and big pharma is proving to be a powerful vehicle that is working just as we had hoped, bridging the gap between excellent academic science and the transformational development of medicines that GSK can provide,” said Lon Cardon, senior vice president, alternative discovery & development at GSK. “From conception of the idea to three new companies in less than 18 months is an unprecedented pace for us, and we are achieving our goal of capitalizing on exciting science and at the same time increasing efficiency in drug discovery, which ultimately will benefit patients.”

Source: Avalon Ventures

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