LEUVEN, Belgium, June 16, 2020
- Fund+ building a strong and diversified oncology portfolio
- Alexandra Tolia, Partner at Fund+ will join the Board
LEUVEN, Belgium, June 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Fund+, an investment firm focused on innovative European Life Sciences companies, today announces that it has invested in a new portfolio company, Ona Therapeutics (Ona), which is focused on the discovery and development of therapeutic biologics to treat metastatic cancer. Alexandra Tolia, Partner at Fund+, will join the Board.
Ona Therapeutics was spun-out of IRB Barcelona and ICREA by co-founders Salvador Aznar-Benitah and Valerie Vanhooren, who was previously at Ablynx where she led drug development projects in collaboration with major pharmaceutical companies such as Merck and Abbvie. She studied at the VIB-Ghent University.
Ona Therapeutics' approach is based on pioneering work from Dr Aznar-Benitah published in Nature in 2017 that validates Metastasis-Initiating Cells as therapeutic targets in metastatic cancer. The research shows that blocking the pathways that allow fat metabolism in animal models of cancer inhibits the cells that give rise to metastases, with the potential to not only prevent the development of these malignant growths, but also to eliminate existing ones. Importantly, this stands out as a common feature shared among various metastatic tumors, such as oral, breast, ovarian, gastric, bladder, prostate and melanoma.
The financing will allow Ona Therapeutics to complete the pre-clinical development in a variety of tumor types and to move its lead candidate into first clinical studies in patients with metastatic cancer in 2023. Fund+ played an instrumental role in forming the European syndicate of investors in the €30 million Series A financing, which also includes Asabys Partners, Alta Life Sciences, BPI France, and Ysios Capital.
Alexandra Tolia, Partner at Fund+ and member of Ona Therapeutics board, said: "Fund+ looks to invest in potential world class opportunities by backing great teams and groundbreaking science in areas of major unmet medical need. Ona Therapeutics is in a unique position to offer new promising treatments for patients that have otherwise extremely limited options for recovery. We are pleased for the opportunity to help build this company with our co-investors and look forward to working with the leadership team to accelerate the development of new treatment options for metastatic cancer patients."
Valerie Vanhooren, CEO and co-founder of Ona Therapeutics, commented: "The successful financing underscores the potential of our innovative pipeline. We are delighted by the strong support from Fund+ as well as our existing and new investors and I look forward to leveraging their extensive experience as we develop novel therapies with the potential to treat multiple types of metastatic cancer."
Chris Buyse, Managing Partner and Executive Board Member of Fund+, added: "Our strategy is to create a strong portfolio of leading innovative companies with a patient-centric focus. The combination of this exciting science, high quality team and investor syndicate gives Ona Therapeutics a great platform on which to launch, reflecting our vision of making a significant societal contribution to the lifesciences ecosystem in Europe."
Fund+ is a Belgian venture capital firm that invests in innovative European Life Sciences companies developing drugs, medical devices and diagnostics, with a strong focus on patient-centric approaches and major unmet medical needs. With over €200M in assets under management, Fund+ has built a strong track record since 2015, investing in 13 portfolio companies with two major exits. The fund is managed by a specialist team of seasoned life sciences professionals with healthcare industry, corporate finance and strategy consulting experience, supporting companies throughout their growth cycle. The company aims to maintain a leading position in the Life Sciences sector, creating sustainable value for its shareholders and a tangible impact on society. www.fundplus.be
About Ona Therapeutics
Ona Therapeutics, with headquarters in the Barcelona Science Park (PCB), Barcelona, Spain, is a biotech company that specializes in the discovery and development of therapeutic biologics targeting tumor metastatic-initiating cells and lipid metabolism. Founded in 2019 by Salvador Aznar-Benitah and Valerie Vanhooren, it was a spin-off from ICREA and Advanced Studies, and the IRB Institute for Research in Biomedicine. www.ona-therapeutics.com