D-Novo Therapeutics Raises $12 Million for Cancer Therapies Based on OHSU Technology

08/23/01    Portland, Ore. and LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif.

Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and D-Novo Therapeutics today announced that D-Novo has secured $12 million in Series A financing to develop and commercialize technology licensed from OHSU that the company believes significantly increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy in cancer patients. The financing was led by Domain Partners V, L.P., with co-investments by Sofinnova Ventures and ProQuest Investments, and included $5 million to launch the company and $7 million upon completion of certain milestones. The investors have committed to an additional $12 million in a Series B round once certain clinical milestones are met. Domain Partners V, L.P. is a $475 million venture fund specifically focused on life science investments that is managed by Domain Associates, of Princeton, N.J. and Laguna Niguel, Calif. Sofinnova has $330 million of capital under management, and ProQuest manages a $200 million fund.

The technology behind D-Novo Therapeutics is based on the discovery by medical oncologists at OHSU that very high doses of calcitriol (an active form of vitamin D) given once a week in a new dosage form and regimen can significantly boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy in humans. The inventors are Tomasz Beer, M.D., assistant professor of medicine in OHSU's School of Medicine, and David Henner, M.D., Ph.D., former OHSU faculty member. OHSU is a shareholder in the founders round of the company and will receive milestone payments as compounds proceed through clinical trials and royalties from product sales.

"OHSU is proud to play a part in the formation of D-Novo to commercialize this technology. The university invested in the protection and development of this technology for more than three years as its researchers and the university technology transfer team worked together to patent these findings before they were licensed," noted Steve Mastin, Ph.D., senior licensing executive in OHSU's Office of Technology and Research Collaborations.

More than 200 patients with a variety of cancers have been treated with high-dose calcitriol in Phase I and II studies, with acceptable safety profiles. Preliminary evidence of efficacy has been shown in prostate cancer using a surrogate marker. Prostate cancer patients receiving once-weekly, high-dose calcitriol in addition to chemotherapy had a substantially greater response rate than typically seen for chemotherapy alone.

The goal of D-Novo Therapeutics is to develop proprietary high-dose formulations of calcitriol and other related compounds as effective and safe adjunct therapies to increase the effectiveness of currently used chemotherapeutics in prostate and other cancers. D-Novo has established a world-class clinical advisory board, and an experienced management and development team. "We are excited about the collaboration with OHSU, and we will aggressively develop the inventions licensed from OHSU into safe and effective new therapies for a wide variety of cancers," said Eckard Weber, M.D., president and CEO of D-Novo Therapeutics.