Cancer therapeutics from Tesaro raised $101 million in a Series B round of financing to progress and expand its portfolio. The fundraising was led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and included existing and new investors. Tesaro says the new funds will allow it to fully fund the development of lead neurokinin-1 (NK1) receptor antagonist rolapitant through Phase III trials and potentially regulatory submissions, as well as to progress its anaplastic lymphoma kinase program into clinical trials in cancer patients. Rolapitant is in development for preventing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
The ALK inhibitor program was in-licensed from Amgen in March. Tesaro was founded just over a year ago by former executives of MGI Pharma, which was acquired by Eisai in 2008. On licensing the small molecule ALK inhibitors from Amgen earlier this year, the firm said it aims to develop one or more of the compounds for oncology indications, including the treatment of patients with ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer.
Rolapitant and a related compound were licensed to Tesaro by OPKO Health back in 2010. Under terms of the exclusive deal, OPKO is eligible for payments of up to $121 million including an up-front payment and additional payments based upon specified regulatory and commercialization milestones, plus additional sales royalties. The two firms will share future profits from the commercialization of licensed products in Japan, and OPKO will have an option to market the products in Latin America. OPKO in addition acquired a 10% equity stake in Tesaro.