Novelos Cancer Drug to Enter Phase II With $4M Investment

Novelos Therapeutics said today it will raise $4 million from investors that will allow the company to initiate a Phase II clinical trial of one of its cancer drugs.

Madison, WI-based Novelos (OTCQX: NVLT) is developing compounds that either target and kill cancer cells or act as imaging agents for detecting cancer. Its drugs are designed for absorption by cancer cells, including cancer stem cells, while minimizing damage to healthy cells.

The company was formerly based in Newton, MA, but moved headquarters to Madison in 2011 after it acquired Cellectar and its pipeline of cancer drugs, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Novelos had previously stopped developing its leading cancer drug candidate when the compound failed in a Phase III trial in 2010, according to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.

The $4 million private placement of convertible debt and warrants announced Thursday will help fund operations, including starting a Phase II imaging trial of Novelos’ “Light” compound in glioblastoma, a type of brain or spinal tumor, during the first quarter of 2014. Light has ongoing early-stage clinical trials targeting 11 types of tumors, the company said.

The funds could also help initiate a Phase I trial of Novelos’ “Glow2” compound—a non-radioactive agent that helps illuminate tumors—in breast cancer surgery, the company said.

“Both trials address well-defined unmet medical needs, are small in scale, and have the potential to validate our novel, highly selective, cancer-targeting delivery platform,” said Simon Pedder, Novelos’ president and CEO, in a press release. “We believe success in these studies will highlight the significant potential for future diagnostic and therapeutic applications of a delivery platform capable of targeting cancer and cancer stem cells.”

Pedder joined Novelos in October after serving as president and CEO of Chelsea Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CHTP), a development-stage biopharmaceutical company based in Charlotte, N.C., from 2004 through 2012. Pedder succeeded Harry Palmin, who stepped down last year.

Novelos’ technology comes from the research of Jamey Weichert, a University of Wisconsin-Madison associate professor of radiology who founded Cellectar in 2002. He serves as Novelos’ chief scientific officer.

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