Finding love in Russia

Russian nanotech fund woos pair of MIT companies to Moscow with $50M

The state-funded $10 billion Russian nanotechnology fund Rusnano, which has invested more than $1 billion in life sciences companies and funds over the last several years, invested another $50 million last week.

The money was evenly divided between series D rounds for nanotech plays Bind Biosciences Inc. and Selecta Biosciences Inc. Each round totaled $47.3 million.

Both companies are from the lab of Robert Langer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

All existing investors in both companies and undisclosed new investors also participated. Flagship Ventures and Polaris Venture Partners are co-founding investors in both companies. NanoDimension is an existing investor in both companies.

Bind's existing investors are Arch Venture Partners; DHK Investments; and EndeavourVision. Selecta's existing investors are Leukon Investments and OrbiMed Advisors.

Rusnano was formed in 2007 with a mandate to make Russia a nanotechnology leader. The goal is to create a portfolio of companies with 300 billion rubles ($9.7 billion) in sales annually by 2015.

It has committed more than 200 billion rubles ($6.5 billion) to 134 nanotech projects and funds. Of this, it's invested around 35 billion rubles ($1.1 billion) in about 20 life sciences projects and funds, Managing Director Dmitry Lisenkov told Ebb & Flow.

Portfolio companies include oncology company Cleveland BioLabs Inc. (NASDAQ:CBLI); inflammation and dermatology company Pro Bono Bio; and biobetters play SynBio LLC.

It is also a fund-of-funds investor in Celtic Pharma; the Burrill Capital Fund; and Domain Associates.

Follow the money

As part of the financing, each company will establish subsidiaries in Moscow and designate $25.3 million of the $47.3 million for activities in Russia. Noubar Afeyan of Flagship Ventures said the activity within the subsidiaries will develop organically and could include R&D, manufacturing and/or a clinical presence.

Meanwhile, Bind hopes the round will to get its lead product, BIND-014, through clinical testing and to begin a second clinical program.

BIND-014 is in a Phase I trial to treat solid tumors. The polymeric nanoparticle contains docetaxel; it concentrates in the neovasculature surrounding tumors and targets prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA).

Bind's Medicinal Nanoengineering technology is being used to develop a pipeline of targeted therapeutics, dubbed Accurins, which are designed to accumulate at the site of disease. The company hopes to develop therapeutics to treat cancer and inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases.

Selecta's lead is SEL-068, a targeted Synthetic Vaccine Particle (tSVP). The biotech is preparing to begin clinical testing of SEL-068 for smoking cessation and relapse prevention. This round is slated to get SEL-068 through clinical testing and to bring other programs into the clinic.

The company's SVP technology enables antigen-specific immune activation or tolerance. It can be used to elicit immune

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