UZH spinoff secures CHF 35 million Series A financing


Anaveon, a spinoff of the University of Zurich with a new approach for developing immunotherapies for cancer, has finalized a CHF 35 million Series A financing. The start-up which was incorporated in December 2017 is now valued at CHF 60 million.


Syncona Investment Management Limited, led the round with CHF 28 million and takes 47 percent stake in the business. Syncova was joined by Novartis Venture Fund. Anaveon was founded in 2017 with initial seed capital from the UZH Life Sciences Fund, which will convert in the Series A financing and additional funding from BaseLaunch, a healthcare accelerator operated by The financing supports the development of a selective Interleukin 2 ("IL-2") Receptor Agonist.

Anaveon’s IL-2 Receptor Agonist is a type of protein that could therapeutically boost a patient's immune system to respond to tumors. In the body, human IL-2 stimulates T-cell, a type of immune cell, to multiply and be activated. Under certain situations, T-cells can attack tumors. Consistent with this, human IL-2 is already approved as a medicine for the treatment of metastatic melanoma and renal cancer.

Human IL-2 has certain drawbacks; it can be toxic and has a short half-life requiring repeat dosing. Anaveon's product is designed to address these challenges. This type of drug, if approved, could potentially have a wide utility in oncology, including cell therapies, vaccines, checkpoint inhibitors and in combination with radiotherapy.New board membersAs part of the round, Syncona’s Chief Executive, Martin Murphy, Syncona’s Partner, Dominic Schmidt and Florian Muellershausen from Novartis Venture Fund have joined Anaveon's Board of Directors with Alice Renard, a Syncona Partner, to be an Observer."Our commitment to Anaveon is a great example of our strategy to build truly innovative companies anchored by exceptional science and experienced teams. Anaveon has a strong strategic fit across Syncona's cell therapy portfolio and we are excited by the potential to develop a best-in-class product in the IL-2 space. The Syncona team will work in close partnership with the company's founders to develop its business plan and clinical pathway," said Martin Murphy, Chief Executive of Syncona.

Anaveon’s founders are Onur Boyman, Professor and Chair in the Department of Immunology at the University of Zurich and a recognized IL-2 biology expert, and Andreas Katopodis, previously Director at the Autoimmunity, Transplantation & Inflammation Group at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research.(Press release)