Advanced Chemotherapy Technologies (ACT) has closed a $5.5 million series A financing round led by Khosla Ventures. The funding will be used to advance the development of ACT-IOP-003, the company’s local chemotherapy system for the treatment of locally advanced non-resectable and borderline resectable pancreatic cancer. ACT filed an IND with the FDA in March of 2020.
The ACT-IOP-003 system is designed to deliver the chemotherapy drug, gemcitabine, through the dense tumor microenvironment, directly to the tumor, while also minimizing the systemic toxicity commonly associated with chemotherapy treatments for pancreatic cancer. This approach offers three major advantages over traditional systemic chemotherapy: (1) Superior delivery of chemotherapy to the tumor cells, greatly increasing the amount of drug to treat the tumor, (2) Tumor shrinkage that can enable surgical resection, the only curative treatment for pancreatic cancer, and (3) Greatly decreased systemic toxicity so that the patient can remain in treatment.
The ACT-IOP-003 implantable drug delivery system uses a mild electrical current (iontophoresis) and can deliver a wide range of drugs directly to the local tumor. The system was developed in the laboratories of Jen Jen Yeh, MD, and Joseph M. DeSimone, PhD, at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill.
In preclinical studies, 100% of pancreatic cancer tumors treated with the device using gemcitabine shrunk by an average of 40%, while tumors treated with intravenously delivered gemcitabine grew an average of 240%.
“ACT has made remarkable progress leveraging their seed investment and NIH grants to advance their first product, ACT-IOP-003, into the clinic,” said Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures. “ACT brings a skilled team and unique approach to drug delivery and precision medicine and we are excited to build on this momentum.”
“We are excited to have the support of such an outstanding Venture Capital firm in Khosla Ventures,” said Tony Voiers, CEO of Advanced Chemotherapy Technologies. “We are now poised to move our lead product into the clinic, where we will have the opportunity to treat pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest of all cancers, and to continue to develop new applications for our novel drug delivery approach.”