ApoGen Biotech Lands $7M to Take On Drug Resistance in Cancer

Xconomy Seattle — 

[Updated, 12/14/16, 5:39 pm. See below.] Seattle startup creator Accelerator Corp. has revealed its latest investment, ApoGen Biotechnologies, a startup that plans to develop cancer drugs that can overcome the resistance tumors develop to other treatments.

ApoGen has raised a $7 million Series A to get going. Investors participating in the financing include AbbVie Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments, ARCH Venture Partners, Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY), Johnson & Johnson Innovation—JJDC, Inc., Watson Fund, L.P., WRF Capital, and WuXi PharmaTech.

ApoGen plans to develop drugs meant to slow or stop cancer from mutating and developing resistance to other treatments. These experimental drugs are aimed at enzymes known as APOBEC cytidine deaminases, which are implicated in the development of DNA mutations in cancer cells. ApoGen believes blocking these enzymes with a drug might help stop tumors from mutating and developing drug resistance. ApoGen is also developing companion diagnostics to try to identify the patients most likely to respond to its therapies. Apogen formed in 2014 in St. Paul, MN, based on research discoveries made at the University of Minnesota by virologist Reuben Harris and medicinal chemist David Harki. [paragraph updated with additional detail about ApoGen’s origins.]

Accelerator seeds and incubates biotech companies until they can go off and secure further venture investments. ApoGen is the third startup to emerge with new investment and management from Accelerator this year. In January, Accelerator unveiled Petra Pharma and Lodo Therapeutics. Both of those startups came out of Accelerator’s East Coast branch in New York, however, a site that opened in 2014. ApoGen will be based in Accelerator’s Seattle headquarters. [Paragraph updated to explain Accelerator’s role with ApoGen and other startups.]