San Diego Business Journal

San Diego-based RayzeBio, a biotech company focused on targeted radiopharmaceuticals for cancer diseases, has raised $45 million Series A from investors.

The financing was co-led by VenBio Partners and Versant Ventures, Samsara BioCapital is also a participating investor along with several healthcare investors.

The investment proceeds will be used primarily to build out its team and to advance the development of its broad pipeline of targeted radiopharmaceuticals.

Led by Ken Song, who joined earlier this year as president and chief executive officer, the young company already has a pipeline of seven programs it is seeking to pursue, all focused on targeted radiopharmaceuticals.

“We have a clear and systematic strategy to tackle this space, including key partnerships and a suite of rationally designed radiopharmaceutical medicines that can meaningfully impact outcomes for cancer patients,” said Song. “The field of radiopharmaceuticals represents one of the most attractive untapped opportunities in oncology.”

Radiopharmaceuticals

The company aims to improve clinical benefit by developing tumor-targeted small molecule medicines that harness the power of radioisotopes. In particular, RayzeBio is focused on clinically validated solid tumor targets.

So far, the team has designed peptide mimetics, or peptide-like protein chains, to optimize tumor penetration and half-life customizability. This technology will allow them to deliver potent therapeutic radioisotopes such as Actinium-225, an alpha-emitter.

The hope is that RayzeBio’s particular drugs will bring multi-billion dollar market opportunities across the board, Song said, adding that he believes the company’s advanced pipeline will position them as a leader in the oncology field.

“What really attracted me to RayzeBio, is that there’s already clinical data validating that this type of technology can have a dramatic impact on patients. Yet, the level of investment that’s been made by the industry has been very small,” said Song. “This creates an enormous opportunity for a new company such as ourselves, to really become the leader in that space.”

New Facility

RayzeBio’s plan is to move into a new facility where it can manage all aspects of drug discovery and early-stage development by the second half of 2021.

In addition, its goal is to produce at least one development candidate in the latter half of 2021, and begin clinical trials a year later.

The company will also further its partnership with the Tokyo-based PeptiDream, which is taking on the role of initially screening new peptide mimetics before handing off promising ones to RayzeBio for further testing.

Reputable investors are backing the San Diego company because of its mission, deep experience and proven track record, said Jerel Davis managing director at Versant.

“The radiopharmaceutical field is reaching a new inflection due to multiple scientific and translational advances as well as recent clinical demonstration of dramatic efficacy,” he said. “We believe RayzeBio has the potential to generate similar results across multiple precision oncology targets, a feat that no other company has accomplished.”

Industry Veterans

Prior to Razyebio, Song was the co-founder and CEO of Ariosa Diagnostics, a San Jose-based company that was acquired by global pharmaceutical company Roche in 2015 for $625 million.

He was co-inventor of Ariosa’s lead product, and led the company to commercialize in over 100 companies. Before Ariosa, Song was a VC at Venrock and a consultant at McKinsey & Company.

Deborah Charych, also joined the management team as co-founder and CTO of RayzeBio earlier this year. Charych is a pharma and biotech industry veteran who will lead the biology group.

Headquartered in Sorrento Valley, it employs about a dozen staffers, with anticipation to triple its team headcount growing at around 50 staffers by end of 2021.