2021-12-01| ChinaFunding

Ablaze Pharma Launches with $75 Million to Bring Targeted Radiotherapies into China

by Joy Lin
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Shanghai-based Ablaze Pharmaceuticals has launched with a $75 million Series A round to develop targeted radiopharmaceutical therapies (TRT) against cancer in China. The new company won’t start empty-handed, having secured rights to a series of TRT candidates from its parent RayzeBio, a San Diego-based radiopharma. 

The Series A was co-led by Vivo Capital and AdvanTech Capital. The round was also joined by RAYZ Investments, Nan Fung Life Sciences, Pivotal bioVenture Partners China, venBio Partners, Samsara BioCapital and Venrock Healthcare Capital Partners.

Radiation therapy, where radiation is beamed at the site of a tumor to kill cancer cells, has long been a staple of cancer treatments. However, the approach becomes less effective with metastatic disease, and has lower penetration against tumors found deeper in the body. 

TRT is an emerging therapy which aims to deliver radioactive molecules to the tumor cells, making it a more localized treatment for cancer. 

“Targeted radiopharmaceutical therapies represent the next foundational modality to treat cancer,” said Ken Song, co-founder and Chairman of Ablaze and CEO of RayzeBio. “In forming Ablaze, we realized that to be successful, it was critical to have a company focused on the China market and focused on radiopharmaceuticals.”

“We are excited about this opportunity to bring a novel class of therapeutic products to benefit patients in China,” said Alex Qiao, CEO of Ablaze. “This investment from top tier investors in China and abroad provides a strong endorsement to Ablaze’s vision and business model. We look forward to creating the best and differentiated medicines to address unmet medical needs in China.”


Actinium 225, a Potential Component for TRTs


While Ablaze has not disclosed details of the TRT drugs in-licensed from RayzeBio, potential candidates may contain a molecule called actinium 225. Actinium 225 is an alpha emitting radioactive particle with high energy density, but acts at distances of just a few cell widths. This allows its action to be limited to cells of interest (i.e. cancer cells) instead of nearby healthy tissue. 

RayzeBio is working to conjugate actinium 225 to peptide-like binders called peptide mimetics, which will target specific cancer biomarkers and deliver the therapeutic molecule to the cancer. To date, the radiopharma has raised around $258 million in funding and has struck deals with 48 Hour Discovery, Nimble Therapeutics and PeptiDream to discover new peptide-based molecules. 


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