Azeria Theraputics has announced a £32 million Series B financing round, in which Syncona has committed £29.5 million alongside existing investor the CRT Pioneer Fund.

The newly formed pioneer factor drug discovery company was initially founded in 2017 by Sixth Element Capital, manager of the CRT Pioneer Fund and Cancer Research UK’s Commercial Partnerships team, with the aim of "building a world class pioneer factor oncology company.”

It was based on the work of leading expert in the field, Professor Jason Carroll at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, whose scientific insights have led to a new approach to target FOXA1 driven cancer.

FOXA1 is an essential pioneer factor which has been shown to be pivotal in the tumour growth, progression and maintenance of oestrogen receptor positive luminal breast cancer. It’s is an area of significant unmet patient need where approximately 30% of patients progress to late stage endocrine resistant disease, and where there is potential for new treatments to have significant impacts for patients not addressed by existing therapeutics.

Martin Murphy, chief executive of Syncona Investment said that “Based on unique, proprietary scientific insight, with a world class academic founder and high-quality team, the company has an opportunity to develop and commercialise treatments which could make a significant difference for patients.”

He continued, “The Sixth Element team did an excellent job in identifying and investing in this science to take it to the point where it became an exciting and appropriate opportunity for Syncona.”

Initially the company received investment of £5.5 million in Series A financing from the CRT Pioneer Fund, but now Sycona is the largest investor in the CRT Pioneer Fund and will participate directly in the next stage of growth and development. Azeria also announced that Magda Jonikas and Martin Murphy of Syncona will now join the board of Azeria.