Radiopharmaceutical-focused VC deals in US see staggering 550% growth to $408 million in 2023, reveals GlobalData

The US radiopharmaceutical drugs space saw a 550% increase in total deal value of venture capital (VC) deals, from $63 million in 2017 to $408 million in 2023 year to date (YTD), reveals GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Radiopharmaceutical drugs integrate radioisotopes into drugs or monoclonal antibodies, enabling precise tumor detection through nuclear imaging. Their capacity to target cancer cells with fewer side effects than traditional radiation therapy has led to a significant rise in investor venture funding.

In September 2023, Eli Lilly (Lilly) exemplified this trend by investing $175 million into Mariana Oncology’s Series B financing to advance its lead preclinical drug for small cell lung cancer “MC-339,” which is anticipated to enter clinical trials next year.

Ophelia Chan, Business Fundamentals Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “A growing number of companies engaged in the development of early-stage radiopharmaceutical drugs, particularly those in the discovery and preclinical phases, are experiencing heightened interest from investors.”

According to GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Center Deals Database, US-based radiopharmaceutical companies secured $1.2 billion in total venture financing from 2018 to 2023 YTD, peaking at $262 million in 2021, exclusively within the preclinical and discovery stages of development. Notably, both stages attracted the highest venture funding, with eight preclinical deals and six discovery stage deals totalling $565.5 million and $523 million, respectively, underscoring investor interest.

RayzeBio secured $160 million in a Series D round last year to advance its targeted radiopharmaceuticals portfolio, led by its most advanced Phase III drug, RYZ101, targeting neuroendocrine gastroenteropancreatic tumors. The company has raised a total of $418 million since 2020 across four rounds of venture financing.

In a strategic move, Lilly recently acquired POINT Biopharma for $1.4 billion, bolstering its oncology pipeline and positioning itself at the forefront of developing next-generation radiopharmaceutical drugs.

Since Lutathera (lutetium Lu 1777 dotatate), the first radiopharmaceutical drug by Novartis subsidiary Advanced Accelerator Applications, received EMA approval in 2017 and FDA approval in 2018 for neuroendocrine gastroenteropancreatic tumors, radiopharmaceuticals have been acknowledged as a safe and highly effective targeted cancer treatment approach.

Chan concludes: “Despite facing challenges such as supply chain issues related to the radioisotopes’ short half-life, selection of the appropriate isotope, efficacy, and logistical concerns in transportation, the expansion of portfolios and increased clinical trials by radiopharmaceutical companies are expected to fuel the growing investor interest.”

Note: Includes all announced and completed deals for target companies headquartered in the US from 2018-2023YTD as a percentage growth from the baseline year 2017. Includes deals where at least one drug involved is an innovator radiopharmaceutical drug for Marketed, Pre-Registration, Phase III, Phase II, Phase I, Preclinical, and Discovery development stages. YTD= Year to date.

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