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Venture Capital News: XTuit Pharmaceuticals Raises $22M

CAMBRIDGE, MA, XTuit Pharmaceuticals today announced a $22 million Series A financing.
XTuit Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a privately-held biopharmaceutical company developing a novel class of therapeutics targeting disease-promoting microenvironment in cancer and fibrotic diseases, today announced a $22 million Series A financing.

Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance the development of XTuit's lead products into the clinic in oncology and liver cirrhosis and NASH and to build its biomarker platform which will enable rapid clinical proof-of-concept. The Series A financing was led by New Enterprise Associates and joined by founding investor Polaris Partners, and new investors CTI Life Sciences, Arcus Ventures and Omega Funds.

'We are excited to close our Series A round with a strong syndicate validating our novel therapeutic approach. The microenvironment represents an important new target for therapeutic intervention that could have profound implications in oncology and fibrotic disease,' said Alan Crane, Chief Executive Officer of XTuit. 'This financing will enable us to demonstrate the activity of our lead products in human trials. Our objective is to show in clinical studies that we can significantly improve outcomes in oncology with immune checkpoint drugs as well as other cancer agents and that we can rapidly and significantly reverse fibrosis in liver cirrhosis and NASH.'

XTuit's proprietary, microenvironment-activated drugs have unique, single agent, disease reversing activity in fibrotic inflammatory conditions. In addition, the drugs have strong synergistic combination activity in cancer where they enhance anti-tumor efficacy of standard-of-care drugs, including immune checkpoint inhibitors, chemotherapy, and targeted agents. To support the development of its drugs, the Company is building a novel quantitative, tissue-based biomarker platform for efficacy prediction.

'The microenvironment has been increasingly recognized over the last several years for its critical role in disease progression as well as in drug and immune resistance. We are very excited about the opportunity to translate this novel area of science into significant impact on clinical treatment outcomes across cancers and fibrotic diseases. Our scientific founders, Rakesh K. Jain, Ph.D., professor at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Robert Langer, Sc.D., professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Ronald Evans, Ph.D., professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, have played a leadership role in elucidating these novel mechanisms and developing drugs to address these processes,' said Peter Blume-Jensen, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of XTuit. 'Our microenvironment-activated agents inhibit key mechanisms, including hypoxia, abnormal matrix accumulation, recruitment of stromal cells and aberrant stromal signaling. Because of the mechanisms involved, these agents are particularly suitable for biomarker-accelerated clinical development.'

'We are very excited to be investors in XTuit. The Company combines world-class scientific and business teams, a fundamental and potentially breakthrough mechanistic approach to disease, and a rapid path to demonstration of efficacy in people,' said David Mott, General Partner and head of the healthcare practice of New Enterprise Associates. In connection with the financing, Mr. Mott will join the board of XTuit.

About altered microenvironment in cancer and fibrosis

The microenvironment, or stroma, is significantly altered in cancer and fibrotic disorders, contributing to and promoting the advancement of disease. The microenvironment is in a pro-inflammatory state and becomes stiff through deposition of extracellular matrix components, including collagen and hyaluronan, which are stabilized by matrix molecules. Moreover, stromal cells, including cancer-associated fibroblasts, stellate cells, and monocyte/macrophage-derived cells, expand and are reprogrammed to an active state. This activation results in up-regulation of several key signaling pathways in the stroma. As a consequence of these biological changes, there is increased solid stress in the stroma, resulting in vessel compression and ultimately hypoxia, as well as stroma-induced signaling to the tumor and inflammatory cells that can result in disease progression and treatment resistance to standard-of-care agents.

About XTuit

XTuit Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company developing novel microenvironment-activated therapeutics targeting key mechanisms resulting in hypoxia, decreased drug uptake, drug resistance, and decreased immune response. The Company's proprietary drug development pipeline and integrated, sophisticated clinical biomarker platform will be used for accelerated clinical development across selected cancers and fibrotic disorders. XTuit's compounds act through pleiotropic mechanisms to inhibit extracellular matrix synthesis and stabilization, and to silence activated stromal cells, including cancer-associated fibroblasts and stellate cells. As a result, XTuit compounds alleviate hypoxia and enable enhanced drug uptake through solid stress reduction. Moreover, the drugs have been shown to down-regulate stroma-induced tumor and inflammation signaling pathways to overcome treatment resistance. XTuit's first two lead series are being developed for early clinical proof-of-concept in liver diseases and cancer. The Company's founders include Rakesh K. Jain, Ph.D., Andrew Werk Cook Professor of Tumor Biology (Radiation Oncology) at Harvard Medical School and Director, Edwin L. Steele Laboratory for Tumor Biology at the Massachusetts General Hospital; Robert Langer, Sc.D., David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Ronald Evans, Ph.D., March of Dimes Chair in Molecular and Developmental Biology and Professor and Director of the Gene Expression Laboratory at the Salk Institute as well as Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator; and Alan Crane of Polaris Partners. XTuit is backed by leading investors, including Polaris Partners, New Enterprise Associates, CTI Life Sciences, Arcus Ventures and Omega Funds.
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