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July 27, 2009

Novartis Invests in Avila’s Protein-Silencing Covalent Drug Development Efforts

  • Novartis Option Fund led a $30 million Series B financing round for Avila Therapeutics and obtained an option agreement covering a covalent drug program from Avila’s research pipeline. The collaboration includes up-front and milestone fees totaling over $200 million plus royalties.

    Avila reports that its platform, designed to create covalent drug candidates that work through protein silencing, has demonstrated preclinical activity in targeting the HCV protease and Btk, an emerging target in autoimmune disease and certain cancers. Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance one program into clinical development while continuing to advance the Avilomics™ drug discovery platform.

    In conjunction with the financing, Henry Skinner, Ph.D., managing director of the Novartis Option Fund, joined the Avila board of directors. “We are excited about the opportunity presented by Avila’s innovative approach to the design and development of covalent drugs,” says Dr. Skinner.

    The three components of Avilomics are: informatics technologies that uniquely identify sites amenable to selective covalent modification and target silencing, a library of highly selective chemistries for target silencing, and design tools that integrate target analysis as well as covalent chemistry to create novel medicines.