The financing, led by founding investors Polaris Partners and ARCH Venture Partners alongside Lilly, will support Volastra’s portfolio of KIF18A inhibitors along with the advancement of a robust pipeline of research programmes


Sovilnesib is currently under Phase 1 development. (Credit: Julia Koblitz on Unsplash)

US-based cancer biotechnology company Volastra Therapeutics has completed the in-licensing of Amgen’s sovilnesib (AMG650), an oral small molecule inhibitor of KIF18A.

Under the terms of the agreement, Volastra obtains an exclusive global license to develop and commercialise sovilnesib worldwide, except in China.

Amgen will receive a combination of upfront cash and equity, along with downstream milestone payments and royalties.

Sovilnesib is currently under Phase 1 development for treating platinum-resistant serous ovarian cancer, triple-negative breast cancer and other solid tumours with TP53 mutations.

The drug was previously granted FDA fast-track designation in platinum-resistant high-grade serous ovarian cancer, underscoring the high unmet need in this population.

Volastra chief executive officer Charles Hugh-Jones said: “We are excited to add sovilnesib to our growing pipeline of CIN-targeted therapeutics which includes our own KIF18A inhibitor, VLS-1488.”

Volastra chief medical officer Scott Drutman said: “Our focus is helping patients in critical need of new treatment options. In-licensing sovilnesib broadens our options to accelerate the development of therapies against a promising new target.”

Volastra has also raised $60m in a Series A financing round led by founding investors Polaris Partners and ARCH Venture Partners, alongside Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly).

The investment round also saw participation from Droia Ventures, Catalio Capital Management, Vida Ventures, Cornell University, and Meyers Ventures.

Volastra is a clinical-stage drug discovery company, engaged in novel cancer treatments that exploit a unique tumour vulnerability known as chromosomal instability (CIN).

Using its CINtech platform, the company is advancing a novel synthetic lethal and immune-activating pipeline to support cancer patients in future.

Volastra has recently entered into a collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb to advance drug discovery using its CIN-based synthetic lethality approaches to induce tumour cell death.

The company has also established partnerships with Microsoft to develop artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for the high throughput histopathological identification of CIN.