Investing / Science / Venture capital

Virion Therapeutics raises $4M to continue work on cancer, viral infection treatments

The Philly company, a spinout of the Wistar Institute, got backing from Robin Hood Ventures, Keiretsu Forum and Mid-Atlantic Bio Angels Group.

Taken by Brady Dale, Sept 1, 2013

Wistar Institute spinout company Virion Therapeutics raised a $4 million angel round, according to an SEC filing.

The immunotherapy company is working on a path to commercialization for a set of vaccines aimed at treating certain types of cancers and chronic viral infections.

Cofounded by Wistar Institute professor Hildegund C.J. Ertl, Andrew Luber and Bernie Rudnick, the company is working on scientific assets that have been backed by some $25 million in grants.

The Philly-based company will use the funds to complete an FDA Investigational New Drug (IND) filing for its lead HPV vaccine candidate, and perform preclinical work on another vaccine for chronic HBV infection.

“We believe our checkpoint inhibitor has significant advantages over other agents in one of the most rapidly growing segments, immuno-oncology,” cofounder and CEO Rudnick said in a statement. “Our goals are to collaborate with major pharmaceutical companies in commercializing our vaccines, save lives and build a desirable business for near term exits with robust investment returns.”

Rudnick is also a member investor of Robin Hood Ventures, which joined the round with $417,000. Mid-Atlantic Bio Angels Group (MABA), Life Science Angels, Keiretsu Forum, Alliance of Angels and Crimson Peak also invested in the round, which the company expects will exceed $5 million upon final closing.

Investor Rena Rosenberg, a Robin Hood Ventures partner who co-led the Virion investment, said the experience of the company’s leadership made the case for the investment.

“If there is a team that is capable of identifying potential solutions in many of these infection-based cancers, this is the group of individuals that you want,” Rosenberg said.

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