Aura Biosciences Raises $4.5M to Advance Nano-Drug Weapon Against Cancer

Xconomy Boston — 

Today, Cambridge, MA-based Aura Biosciences announced that it has raised $4.5 million from a group of private investors. The funding brings the total amount raised by the two-year-old company to $8 million. Founder and CEO Elisabet de los Pinos won’t reveal details about the investors, except to say, “It’s a small group of wealthy individuals who are all either CEOs or entrepreneurs in the pharmaceutical industry.”

When Xconomy first profiled Aura in 2009, we quoted chairman Edmundo Muniz calling its technology “an intercontinental ballistic missile” for treating cancer. Aura is developing tiny protein shells that can deliver cancer drugs directly to tumor cells, while avoiding healthy tissue.

Aura’s nano-particles resemble viruses, but they’re engineered so they won’t trigger dangerous immune reactions. “We retain the intelligence of the virus particles so they only target tumors,” says de los Pinos, a former fellow at the MIT Sloan School of Management who worked in Eli Lilly’s oncology unit before founding Aura. “Because they are empty shells, they never replicate. We further modified them so the immune system won’t trap them.”

After having spent the last couple of years in animal testing, Aura has now defined a clinical path for its technology. The company will focus on pre-cancerous conditions that are driven by the HPV virus. HPV is best known for causing … Next Page »

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