Dauntless Pharmaceuticals, a San Diego biotech with an unconventional business model, scored an additional $25 million to enter the clinic with its first investigational drug.
The company, founded in 2015, has been mostly flying under the radar in hopes that the firm could keep its investigational work close to the vest.
Venture-backed out of the gate by top-tier VC firm Sofinnova Ventures, Dauntless is an umbrella company for a number of separate entities.
Unlike a standard biotechnology company, which may hold several drug candidate assets in various stages of development, Dauntless is advancing each drug candidate as a stand-alone asset of each separate company it forms. The idea is to avoid having a large laboratory or a high headcount, and instead outsource everything until scientific assets are more developed.
The simplified business structure - being used by other local firms including COI Pharmaceuticals - is said to be more capital efficient. It should result in shorter timelines, lower costs, and higher returns. There’s also important tax advantages for investors and other stakeholders.
The company has raised a total of $32 million from its founding investor Sofinnova, along with Canaan Partners, which led the most recent financing.
As part of the new round, Nina Kjellson, a partner at Canaan Partners, is joining the Dauntless board of directors. She joins other board members Joel Martin (Dauntless’ CEO), Michael Powell (partner at Sofinnova), and San Diego biotech veteran David Kabakoff, a Sofinnova executive partner.
Dauntless is starting Phase 1 clinical trials for its drug candidate called DP1038 for the potential treatment of endocrine cancers. DP1038 uses patented technology developed by Aegis Therapeutics LLC, a drug-delivery and drug-formulation company that has successfully licensed technology to leading pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies.
"DP1038 provides a non-invasive delivery designed to eliminate painful injections, provide dosing flexibility, and reduce side effects that lead to diminished quality of life," CEO Martin said of the drug.