08 Oct Robin Hood Ventures Invests $417,500 in Virion Therapeutics, LLC
Robin Hood Ventures Invests $417,500 in Virion Therapeutics, LLC’s Angel Round
Immunotherapy company raises more than $5 million for genetic construct of a checkpoint inhibitor.
Philadelphia, PA (September 20, 2018) — Philadelphia-based angel investor group Robin Hood Ventures (RHV) has invested $417,000 in Virion Therapeutics, LLC a company commercializing vaccines for virally induced cancers and chronic viral infections.
Spun out of The Wistar Institute, Virion will work to advance innovative, immune-based therapies. Virion was cofounded by Hildegund C.J. Ertl, M.D., Professor at The Wistar Institute, along with life science entrepreneurs Andrew D. Luber, PharmD and Bernard Rudnick MBA in early 2018.
The company is the maker of the first genetic construct of a checkpoint inhibitor; it uses replication-incompetent chimpanzee adenoviruses (ChiVax) as vectors to mount immune responses against inserted antigens known to cause disease such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV). The ChiVax vectors have a distinct advantage over human adenoviral vectors, which have little to no pre-existing immunity which can impact their activity.
ChiVax is based upon decades of research and experience using human adenovirus vectors, and Virion’s assets have been supported with more than $25 million in grants.
Initially planning to raise $5 million, the company expects its successful round will be oversubscribed. The capital will sustain Virion’s activities through an FDA Investigational New Drug (IND) filing for its lead HPV vaccine candidate, and preclinical work on a vaccine for chronic HBV infection.
“Robin Hood Ventures has been supportive, responsive, and they were able to complete a thorough due diligence process expeditiously and competently.” said Rudnick. “We believe our checkpoint inhibitor has significant advantages over other agents in one of the most rapidly growing segments, immuno-oncology. 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.”
Immunotherapy is a rapidly expanding market where Robin Hood feels there is significant unmet patient need. The group first connected with Virion through Rudnick, the company’s CEO as well as a Robin Hood member investor.
“Bernie and Andy have put together an exceptional team, even by Robin Hood’s standards,” said Rena Rosenberg, a Robin Hood Ventures partner who co-led the Virion investment. “Each member of the leadership has tremendous experience and is either nationally or internationally known in their respective fields. 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.”
The team’s breadth of experience is evident in their FDA track record; scientific expertise in multiple types of infection-based cancers and HIV; clinical development experience; and history of successful exits.
Additional funding was provided by members of Mid-Atlantic Bio Angels Group (MABA), Life Science Angels, Keiretsu Forum, Alliance of Angels, and Crimson Peak.
For more information on Robin Hood Ventures-backed companies, visit www.robinhoodventures.com/portfolio.
About Virion Therapeutics, LLC
Virion Therapeutics, LLC, is a science driven company developing innovative immune-based treatments for virally associated cancers and chronic viral infections utilizing the first genetically encoded checkpoint inhibitor given via vaccination. Our vaccines represent novel and highly effective platforms to induce potent and sustained T cell-mediated immune responses, allowing us to target common diseases with unmet medical needs. Founded in early 2018 to advance technology licensed from The Wistar Institute, an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in vaccine, cancer and infectious disease research, Virion has built an experienced biotechnology management team, augmented by its advisory board that has extensive domain knowledge in antiviral, vaccine and oncology therapeutic arenas. viriontx.com .
About Robin Hood Ventures
Robin Hood Ventures is a group of angel investors, focused on early-stage, high-growth companies in the Greater Philadelphia region. We help entrepreneurs build great companies, providing capital, mentoring, expertise and connections to help companies reach their potential. Robin Hood generally invests up to $1 million over the lifetime of a company, and collaborates with angels, institutions and VCs in our network. We invest as a single entity in businesses we know and understand, in a way that gets deals done. Since 1999, we have invested in over 65 companies in industries including software, medical devices, biotech, internet and financial technology. For more information on Robin Hood Ventures portfolio companies like Virion, visithttps://www.robinhoodventures.com/portfolio/.