Polaris Partners Leads $60M Series A For Volastra Therapeutics

Volastra Therapeutics, a New York-based clinical stage cancer biotechnology company focused on exploiting chromosomal instability (CIN), raised $60M in Series A funding.

The round was led by Polaris Partners and ARCH Venture Partners, Eli Lilly and Company with participation from Droia Ventures, Catalio Capital Management, Vida Ventures, Cornell University, and Meyers Ventures.

The company intends to use the funds to support clinical development of its portfolio of KIF18A inhibitors as well as advancement of a pipeline of research programs targeting chromosomally unstable cancers.

Founded by Lewis Cantley, Ph.D., Olivier Elemento, Ph.D., and Samuel Bakhoum, M.D., Ph.D., and led by Charles Hugh-Jones, Chief Executive Officer, and Scott Drutman MD PhD, Chief Medical Officer, Volastra Therapeutics is a clinical-stage drug discovery company focused on approaches to treating cancer by exploiting tumor vulnerability known as chromosomal instability (CIN). The company is developing and implementing new methods to exploit this vulnerability. Leveraging its proprietary CINtech platform, Volastra is advancing a novel synthetic lethal and immune-activating pipeline through both discovery and clinical stages to support future patients with cancer.

Volastra also announced completion of the in-license of Amgen’s sovilnesib (AMG650), an oral, first-in-class small molecule inhibitor of KIF18A. Under the terms of the licensing agreement, the company receives an exclusive worldwide license (ex-China) to develop and commercialize sovilnesib. In return, Amgen receives an upfront mix of cash and equity, as well as downstream milestones and royalties. The drug is currently in Phase 1 for the treatment of platinum-resistant high-grade serous ovarian cancer, triple-negative breast cancer and other solid tumors with TP53 mutations. The FDA previously granted sovilnesib fast-track designation in platinum-resistant high grade serous ovarian cancer, underscoring the high unmet need in this population.

Volastra recently announced a multi-year, up to $1.1 billion collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb to drive drug discovery using CIN-based synthetic lethality approaches to induce tumor cell death. To complement both clinical and discovery efforts the company has built a partnership with Microsoft to develop artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for the high throughput histopathological identification of CIN.

Volastra will advance clinical development of both sovilnesib and VLS-1488 in 2023.