GSK, Avalon Ventures Form New Immunotherapy Company

Avalon Ventures, a private equity firm, and COI Pharmaceuticals, a pharmaceutical venture entity, have announced the formation of PDI Therapeutics to develop immune-oncology therapies. PDI Therapeutics is the eighth company overall formed by Avalon and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the first company formed under their expanded collaboration that was announced in November 2015.

COI Pharmaceuticals is a community of innovation (COI) that established in 2013 to support companies funded through a collaboration between Avalon Ventures and GSK as well as existing Avalon portfolio companies. COI provides the intellectual capital to launch companies, a fully-equipped R&D infrastructure and industry mentors prepared to leverage their expertise to help entrepreneurial scientists succeed. COI is located in La Jolla, California.

As with the other companies founded under the collaboration between Avalon and GSK, PDI Therapeutics will receive up to $10 million in Series A financing and R&D support from Avalon and GSK as well as R&D and mentoring support through COI Pharmaceuticals. GSK has the option to acquire each of the companies when a clinical candidate is identified. However, if GSK does not elect to exercise this option, Avalon will retain its ownership in the company, and the company will be free to enter into other strategic transactions.

PDI Therapeutics is named for protein disulfide isomerase. When overexpressed, this protein can help tumor cells avoid detection by the immune system's natural killer and T cells. PDI Therapeutics is developing antibody inhibitors to specific protein disulfide isomerases to unmask tumor cells so the immune system can recognize and destroy them. PDI's inhibitors could be used as a stand-alone therapy or in combination with other known immunotherapies, such as CAR-natural killer therapies that stimulate the immune system to recognize and eliminate solid tumors.

In addition, that the first two companies formed under the COI collaboration with GSK have achieved their first milestones. Sitari Pharmaceuticals, which is developing treatments for celiac disease, and Silarus Therapeutics, which is developing treatments for iron overload disorders, have both achieved lead declaration and established a path to identify a clinical candidate. Financial terms of the milestones have not been disclosed.

Source: Avalon Ventures

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