Imperial Innovations is streaming £5.1 million into newborn biotech Artios Pharma, giving the firm a 14.9 percent stake in its business.

Artios was formed with assets out of Cancer Research Technology, the technology transfer unit of Cancer Research UK. The firm is being led by Dr Niall Martin, previous Director of Drug Discovery at KuDOS Pharmaceuticals, which discovered PARP inhibitor olaparib, a cancer drug to which AstraZeneca now owns rights.

The funds, part of a Series A round of financing totalling £25 million, will help drive Artios' ambition to build a pipeline of first-in-class therapies based on DNA damage response (DDR), sourced from CR UK and global collaborators, as well as progress its own lead programmes, including Pol-theta, into the clinic.

"Targeting the DNA Damage Response is an exciting and promising field of biology," said Bobby Soni, Director of Healthcare Ventures at Imperial Innovations, explaining the interest in the company.

"DDR drug products have generated considerable interest following the recent clinical successes of PARP inhibitors which have highlighted the potential for DDR drugs to cause selective death in cancer cells."

They have the potential to act as single agents able to selectively kill tumour cells through synthetic lethality, adjunctive therapy to overcome resistance to current cytotoxics, and potentiating agents to radiotherapy and novel therapies including immune-oncology treatments, Imperial said.

The group has won backing from a syndicate of leading European and US life sciences investors, including SV Life Sciences, Merck Ventures, Arix Bioscience PLC, CRT Pioneer Fund and AbbVie Ventures in addition to Innovations.