VelosBio Tacks on $137M to Advance Its ROR1-Targeting Cancer Antibody Drugs

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“Early on at a company you may take a bit of a measured approach, making sure you’re generating the early data necessary to support moving the follow-on programs forward as rapidly as possible,” he said. “Now we feel like we’ve got that foundation that we need, that early proof of concept that we need, and obviously our investors felt the same way, and now we’ve got the resources we need to really accelerate the growth of this company and the growth of these programs.”

Currently about 30 people, the company anticipates a doubling of its headcount in the next 12 months. In addition to its corporate headquarters in San Diego, the firm has a presence in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Its executive team includes Acerta alumnus Clayton Knox, who headed its corporate development and strategy. Most recently, Knox served as chief operating officer at Seattle-based cancer immunotherapy startup Mavupharma through that company’s 2019 buyout by AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV). VelosBio’s chief medical officer, Langdon Miller, overlapped with Johnson at Calistoga Pharmaceuticals, which Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD) acquired in 2011; Miller also served as an Acerta advisor.

Johnson said the promise of the company’s therapeutic approach led all of the dozen-plus potential investors that it approached for its Series B to invest. Matrix Capital Management, which with Citadel fund Surveyor Capital led the financing, has been following the company’s progress since it raised its Series A round in 2018, according to Johnson.

Adage Capital Management, Cormorant Asset Management, Farallon, Foresite Capital, Janus Henderson Investors, Logos Capital, OrbiMed, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Venrock Healthcare Capital Partners, Viking Global Investors, and Wellington Management Company joined the deal leads in investing. Many of the company’s new investors are crossover funds, which tend to back companies looking to go public, but Johnson wouldn’t say whether the company is considering an initial public offering in the near future.

VelosBio’s earlier institutional investors—Arix, Sofinnova, Decheng Capital, Pappas Capital, and the investment arm of Takeda (NYSE: TAK)—also participated.

Image: iStock/solarseven

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