Google backs I/O startup Arcus in $107M deal

Arcus Biosciences, with its intriguing cancer pipeline and big shot CEO, has been a VC favorite since its inception in 2015. Now, Google’s venture arm is backing the Bay Area startup in a new $107 million round, bringing the company’s total haul to a quarter billion in startup capital in two years.

The latest infusion of cash was led by GV (formerly Google Ventures), with top-tier VC funds lining up to join, including Wellington Management Company, EcoR1 Capital and others.

It’s not hard to see why, as Arcus has all the things investors like to see: drugs in a hot area of development, a chief executive with a stellar reputation, and a pipeline stacked with several immuno-oncology hopefuls.

Arcus’ CEO Terry Rosen is best known as the guy who took Flexus Bio from inception to a $1.25 billion sale in less than two years. He joined Arcus shortly after the sale, where he and the executive team built the startup in stealth until its coming out party last August.

Now, Rosen is busy gearing up the startup’s pipeline to enter the clinic.

“We have been assembling a team of staff, investors, leadership and advisors with a highly aligned long-term vision to create, develop and commercialize innovative cancer immunotherapies that may offer a meaningful benefit to patients over existing treatments,” Rosen said in a statement.

Arcus is developing small molecule and antibody programs with plans to build its own arsenal of drug combos.

The new cash will be used to move forward AB928, a dual adenosine receptor antagonist, and AB122, a PD-1 antibody. Arcus started a Phase I trial of AB928 in early November, and has a Phase I/II trial scheduled for the first half of 2018 to test a AB928/AB122 combo in cancer patients.

The fresh capital will also allow Arcus to accelerate a couple extra experimental drugs into the clinic, including AB680 (small molecule CD73 inhibitor) and AB154 (TIGIT antibody).

The investment round comes a few months after Arcus scored a deal (worth up to $816 million) to license an anti-PD-1 antibody developed at China’s Gloria Pharma and WuXi Biologics.

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