Lilly-backed fund commits $24M to Recurv's push for clinical proof of concept of nano-emulsion taxane

Recurv Pharma has netted $24 million to take a new spin on an old idea through to phase 2a. With TVM Capital Life Science in its corner, the biotech is positioned to deliver clinical proof-of-concept data on its nano-emulsion taxane formulation.

Physicians have been using taxanes to treat cancer for decades—paclitaxel won approval in 1993—and the class of chemotherapy agents is still at the heart of many treatment regimens. Taxanes remain a key part of the oncology treatment toolkit despite suffering from problems including serious side effects, limited lasting efficacy and ineffectiveness against resistant tumors. 

Recurv sees drug delivery technology as the key to a better taxane. Using nano-emulsion formulation, the U.S. biotech has created a candidate, RP-001, designed to focus delivery on the tumor and thereby reduce its impact on healthy tissues. 

In preclinical models, the novel taxane therapy has wiped out multidrug-resistant cancers, including tumors of the lung, breast, ovaries and other organs. Recurv also found RP-001 can kill cancer stem cells, the source of tumor recurrence, and has a better safety profile than existing taxanes based on preclinical toxicology data. In a pancreatic cancer model, RP-001 worked synergistically with checkpoint inhibitors. 

The preclinical results have persuaded TVM to write a check. The VC fund will invest up to $24 million in Recurv through its project-focused company (PFC) investment objective, an initiative focused on backing first or best-in-class candidates that are clearly differentiated from the competition or add clinical value.  

TVM has an arrangement with Eli Lilly, a limited partner in its funds, that covers its PFC investments. The arrangement allows TVM and its PFCs to work with Chorus, a full-service autonomous R&D unit within Lilly that specializes in proof-of-concept clinical development. TVM plans to provide Recurv with strategic advice, and its managing partner has joined the biotech’s board.