In The News

In the news: Fortis sets out to treat late-stage prostate cancer

Fortis Therapeutics debuted in September with an $18 million Series A financing to develop a novel antibody drug conjugate therapeutic that targets metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer. Fortis’ lead drug candidate also has applications in multiple myeloma, colorectal cancer and mesothelioma.

Dr. Lichter told Endpoints, “UCSF provided a drug candidate ready for the clinic, and we are ramping up programs for prostate cancer as well as multiple myeloma, where we see some added promise. There’s also mouse data in hand for other cancers as well.”

Keeping the target “under wraps” for now, the technology has been licensed from the lab of Bin Liu, Ph.D., at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).  Dr. Liu’s research focuses on cell targets that come into play as cancers become resistant to existing therapeutics.

Dr. Lichter told The San Diego Union-Tribune, “The target is more than a marker that identifies the cancer cells, it’s a cellular receptor that’s functionally involved in the cancer’s defense mechanism.”

The target receptor is over-expressed in late-state prostate cancer and becomes more active following standard of care treatment with androgen deprivation drugs, like abiraterone and enzalutamide.  Because the majority of patients will develop resistance to these therapies, new therapeutic options after androgen receptor directed therapy are needed – and that’s where Fortis is looking to make an impact.

The round was led by Avalon Ventures and included additional investment from Bregua Corporation, Lilly Asia Ventures, Osage University Partners, and Vivo Capital.  Jay Lichter, Ph.D., managing director at Avalon Ventures and CEO of COI Pharmaceuticals, will serve as CEO of Fortis.  In addition to the financing, Eric J. Small, M.D. was appointed to head the scientific advisory board of Fortis Therapeutics.

Read more in Endpoints, The San Diego Business Journal, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Xconomy.

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Read full press release here.