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GEN News Highlights : Jan 9, 2012

BerGenBio Raises $8.8M to Advance Axl Kinase Inhibitor Drug Into Clinical Trials

Norwegian-owned oncology biopharma also eyes companion diagnostic.

Norwegian-owned BerGenBio completed an $8.8 million Series A financing round, primarily to take lead cancer compound BGB324 into clinical trials and to develop a companion diagnostic.

BGB324, the oncology biopharma’s first-in-class Axl kinase inhibitor drug, is the first of a pipeline of oncology therapeutics planned for clinical development through to Phase II, in partnership with industry leaders.

BGB324 inhibited tumor development in preclinical acute myelogenous leukemia models, according to data presented at the annual American Society for Hematology conference. BerGenBio also presented data showing that inhibition of Axl blocks the epithelial-mesenchymal transition in cancer cells and has potential to delay or prevent metastasis, overcome and even reverse acquired resistance to chemotherapy and possibly prevent cancer recurrence.

Lead investors are the Norwegian seed capital fund Sarsia Seed and Investinor, a Norwegian-government-owned venture investment company.