Novira Therapeutics Inc. today announced it has secured $23 million in Series A financing to support the development of its capsid-targeting antivirals for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B (HBV) and HIV infections.
The financing was co-led by new investors 5AM Ventures and Canaan Partners and joined by WuXi PharmaTech as well as existing investors BioAdvance, Mid-Atlantic Angel Group, Robin Hood Ventures and Delaware Crossing Investment Group (DCIG).
In conjunction with the financing, Scott M. Rocklage, Ph.D., a managing partner with 5AM Ventures, has been appointed chairman of Novira's board of directors. In addition, Tim Shannon, M.D., venture partner at Canaan Partners, has joined the board, which is comprised of four highly-accomplished life science executives. The other board members are Anthony W. Ford-Hutchinson, Ph.D., independent consultant to the pharmaceutical industry, and Osvaldo Flores, Ph.D., co-founder, president and chief scientific officer of Novira.
"While many advances have been made in the treatment of chronic HBV and HIV infections, therapy for these diseases is still plagued by certain limitations, including the absence of a true cure for chronic infection with HBV and the development of drug resistance during chronic infection with HIV, leading to a need for antivirals with a new mechanism of action," commented Dr. Rocklage. "We were drawn to Novira's novel approach, which holds much promise for treating these viral diseases with oral drugs that can potentially work either as a monotherapy or in combination with the current standard of care, as well as the company's strong management team, which has extensive expertise in pharmaceutical drug discovery."
Osvaldo Flores, Ph.D., president and chief scientific officer of Novira, added, "We believe the capsid-targeting approach holds much potential as a treatment for chronic HBV and HIV infections, and now, with the support of additional strong investors, we are able to advance these first-in-class antiviral drugs into the clinic."
Novira's antiviral drugs are designed to disrupt the function of a viral protein called the capsid that is required for replication and transmission. During the virus' life cycle, the capsid is involved in the assembly of new viral particles and the disassembly of the particles following infection of a new cell. By inhibiting key aspects of capsid function, Novira's oral drugs prevent further spread of the virus and offer a new treatment for viral diseases.