UK-based Pheon Therapeutics has raised $120m in a Series B round to fund the clinical trials for its oncology pipeline consisting of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs).

Pheon plans to use the proceeds to advance three ADC candidates through to clinical proof of concept. The company stated that the ADCs will be aimed at “an undisclosed novel target which is highly overexpressed in a wide range of solid tumours”.

The first Phase I trial is slated to start this year, with plans to “rapidly advance” towards dose expansion cohorts. Pheon did not disclose much information about the ADC candidate, only that it uses a DAR8 topoisomerase 1 inhibitor linker payload.

The Series B investors included US-based venture capital (VC) companies such as Atlas Venture, BVF Partners and Perceptive Advisors, Australia-based Brandon Capital, European VC Forbion, Canada-based Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Research Corporation Technologies.

ADCs have been an area of interest in recent months, with multiple companies investing in the space. In January, Roche signed a global partnership and licence deal with Medilink Therapeutics for its ADC, YL211, against solid tumours. The deal is expected to be worth over $1bn in potential milestone payments.

In December 2023, Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicine (J&J) acquired the development and commercialisation rights to South Korean LegoChem Biosciences’ ADC candidate LCB84. The company will potentially pay up to $1.7bn in upfront and milestone payments. 

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In November 2023, AbbVie paid $10.1bn to acquire the ADC specialist company ImmunoGen. Its lead ADC, Elahere (mirvetuximab soravtansine-gynx), generated $64m in sales in Q1 this year, as per AbbVie’s financials. In October 2023, MSD signed a development and commercialisation deal with Daiichi Sankyo, potentially spending up to $22bn on the partnership. The partnership involves three of Daiichi Sankyo’s DXd ADCs.

Companies that specialise in drug discovery for ADCs have also found considerable success in recent years. AbCellera has signed multiple ADC drug discovery partnership agreements with companies such as Regeneron, Prelude Therapeutics and Confo Therapeutics.