Press Releases

Avalon Ventures and COI Pharmaceuticals Announce First Milestones for Sitari Pharmaceuticals and Silarus Therapeutics and Formation of Eighth Company

Under the expanded collaboration between Avalon Ventures and GSK, eighth company, PDI Therapeutics, is launched to develop novel immuno-oncology therapies

SAN DIEGO, May 20, 2016 – Avalon Ventures (“Avalon”) and COI Pharmaceuticals, the Community Of Innovation established by Avalon, today announced that the first two companies formed under the collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (“GSK”) have achieved their first milestones. Sitari Pharmaceuticals, which is developing novel treatments for celiac disease, and Silarus Therapeutics, which is developing novel treatments for iron overload disorders, have both achieved lead declaration and established a path to identify a clinical candidate. Financial terms of the milestones have not been disclosed.

In addition, Avalon and COI Pharmaceuticals announced the formation of PDI Therapeutics to develop novel immune-oncology therapies. PDI Therapeutics is the eighth company overall formed by Avalon and GSK and the first company formed under their expanded collaboration which was announced in November 2015.

“We have quickly achieved our first milestones at Sitari Pharmaceutical and Silarus Therapeutics because of the dedication of our team at COI Pharmaceuticals and the committed support from our collaborators at GSK,” said Jay Lichter, Ph.D., managing director of Avalon Ventures and president and CEO of COI Pharmaceuticals. “We are also continuing to evaluate promising scientific advancements to form new companies. Our newest company, PDI Therapeutics, will focus on developing novel stand-alone or combination immunotherapies to enlist the body’s immune system to fight cancer.”

“The accomplishment of these first milestones by the entrepreneurial team at COI Pharmaceuticals, Sitari and Silarus shows the potential of our collaboration with Avalon Ventures,” said Damien McDevitt, Ph.D., Vice President, Business Development head of R&D West Coast satellite at GSK. “We look forward to further scientific advancements from this collaboration as well as formation of additional companies with innovative technologies that can address unmet medical needs.”

PDI Therapeutics is named for protein disulfide isomerase. When overexpressed, this protein can help tumor cells avoid detection by the immune system’s NK and T cells. PDI Therapeutics is developing antibody inhibitors to specific protein disulfide isomerases to unmask tumor cells so the immune system can recognize and destroy them. PDI’s inhibitors could be used as a stand-alone therapy or in combination with other known immunotherapies, such as CAR-NK, that stimulate the immune system to recognize and eliminate solid tumors.

As with the other companies founded under the collaboration between Avalon and GSK, PDI Therapeutics will receive up to $10 million in Series A financing and R&D support from Avalon and GSK as well as R&D and mentoring support through COI Pharmaceuticals. GSK has the option to acquire each of the companies when a clinical candidate is identified. However, if GSK does not elect to exercise this option, Avalon will retain its ownership in the company, and the company will be free to enter into other strategic transactions.

The collaboration between Avalon and GSK previously has launched Sitari Pharma, Silarus Therapeutics, Thyritope Biosciences, Adrenergics, CadheRx Therapeutics, Calporta Therapeutics, and Iron Horse Therapeutics.

About COI Pharmaceuticals

COI Pharmaceuticals is an unconventional venture-pharma entity that provides life science inventors with an environment where entrepreneurial and scientific risks are encouraged and rewarded. This Community of Innovation (COI) was established in 2013 to support companies funded through a collaboration between Avalon Ventures and GSK as well as existing Avalon portfolio companies. COI provides the intellectual capital to launch companies, a fully-equipped R&D infrastructure and industry mentors prepared to leverage their expertise to help entrepreneurial scientists succeed. COI is located in La Jolla, California. For more information, please visit: http://www.coipharma.com/.

About Avalon Ventures

Avalon Ventures is a venture capital firm that has founded and/or funded more than 127 information technology and life sciences companies. The firm is passionate about backing talented entrepreneurs seeking to build market-leading companies. Throughout the firm http://www.avalon-ventures.com/.