Antiva Biosciences, a biopharmaceutical company developing novel, topical therapeutics for the treatment of pre-cancerous lesions caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, has announced the closing of a $31M Series D. The financing was supported by a syndicate of life science investors led by Adjuvant Capital, a leading global and women’s health venture firm, and joined by GV, formerly Google Ventures. Participants in the financing also included new investors HBM Healthcare Investments, Avestria Ventures, Gaingels and Mana Ventures, as well as existing investors including Canaan Partners, Sofinnova Ventures, Lumira Ventures, Brace Pharma Capital, Sirona Capital, Osage University Partners, Dong-A ST and Alexandria Venture Investments. In conjunction with the financing, Jenny Yip, Managing Partner, Adjuvant Capital, will join Antiva’s board of directors.
Proceeds from the financing will support the continued development of the company’s lead development candidate, ABI-2280, including the near-term advancement of the compound into Phase 1 and 2a clinical trials as a potential treatment for high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasias (HSIL, CIN 2,3). ABI-2280 is a prodrug of an acyclic nucleoside phosphonate with known potent antiviral activity which works by directly blocking HPV replication and inducing apoptosis in HPV-infected lesions, while sparing normal cells. Antiva has leveraged its development expertise to create a topical formulation of the compound that is rapidly taken up into epithelial cells, avoiding the potential systemic toxicity often seen when potent antiviral drugs are delivered systemically. The company intends to initiate a Phase 1 clinical trial of ABI-2280 during the fourth quarter, with data expected in the first half of 2022.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women are infected with the virus at some point in their lives. While many of these are transient infections which the body is capable of fighting off, the infections that persist are known to drive the formation of malignancies, including cervical, anal, vulvar, penile, and head and neck cancers.
The introduction of prophylactic vaccines for HPV was a major step forward in the fight against HPV-associated cancers by preventing infection by certain high-risk HPV subtypes. However, due to low adoption rates in the US, EU, and Japan, and limited access to the vaccines in developing countries, HPV infections and the disease states driven by such infections remain a major unmet clinical need.
Globally, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women and as such represents a major public health problem. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 570,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide and approximately 311,000 women died from the disease in 2018.
“This round of financing comes at an active and exciting time for Antiva, as we rapidly approach the initiation of our first-in-human Phase 1 clinical trial of ABI-2280. With industry-wide interest continuing to grow in the global health and women’s health sectors, we feel that ABI-2280 is strongly positioned to meet several critical unmet needs in these areas,” said Gail Maderis, President and CEO of Antiva. “As a non-surgical treatment, ABI-2280 has the potential to offer a therapeutic that can preserve women’s reproductive health, be self-administered at home, and improve access to care in underserved communities where OB/GYN resources are scarce. These attributes are particularly valuable in lower- and middle-income countries (LMIC) , which account for the majority of the more than 300,000 annual deaths from cervical cancer worldwide.”
“As an investor targeting companies tackling high-burden public health challenges in historically overlooked market segments, we feel that Antiva fits our investment approach perfectly. By leveraging a novel technology to develop a topical treatment for HPV-related diseases that often progress into invasive cancers, Antiva is working to address a major global unmet clinical need with a goal of increasing treatment access to women throughout the world,” said Ms. Yip. “We are proud to support the company’s efforts in this area and look forward to the ongoing development of ABI-2280 as it enters the clinic.”
In conjunction with the close of the Series D financing, Antiva and Adjuvant are establishing a global health committee designed to accelerate global development and commercialization of ABI-2280 in lower and middle income countries. The committee will be led by Clifford Samuel, a member of Antiva’s board of directors and formerly Senior Vice President of Global Patient Solutions at Gilead, who brings more than two decades of experience developing and commercializing global health therapeutics.