Valitor Announces the Closing of its Series B Financing and Names Steven Lo as Chief Executive Officer
BERKELEY, Calif., Oct. 05, 2022 – Valitor, a biotechnology company engineering better medicines to conquer drug limitations, today announced that it has closed a Series B financing and named Steven Lo as chief executive officer and member of the board. Mr. Lo, a veteran biopharmaceutical executive with over 25 years in the industry, joins Wesley Jackson, president and chief scientific officer, and William (Sandy) White, recently appointed chief development officer, to provide executive leadership to Valitor.
The company raised $28 million through a Series B financing, which was led by Morningside, and included support from additional new investors -- First Spark Ventures and ExSight Ventures – and existing investors -- Berkeley Catalyst Fund and Pandect Bioventures.
The financing will support the company’s lead programs in ophthalmology and vision-threatening diseases, utilizing Valitor’s groundbreaking Multivalent Polymer (MVP) technology platform that originated at U.C. Berkeley. With the company’s MVP platform, multiple copies of bioactive molecules can be combined with individual biopolymer chains to create novel macromolecular entities that are engineered to overcome a multitude of specific challenges for their target bioactive molecules and indications. The resulting MVP compounds can be engineered to overcome specific drug design challenges, including optimized pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic properties, target engagement, tissue localization, therapeutic durability, and safety. Accordingly, the company’s lead program, a novel anti-VEGF antibody treatment for wet AMD, is positioned to overcome long-standing drug development challenges with the potential of enabling only a twice-yearly treatment, and it is currently entering IND-enabling studies.
“We see Valitor’s MVP platform as an approach with an entirely different method to potentially achieving maximal clinical impact as compared to standard drug development techniques,” said Anthony Aiudi from Morningside. “By being able to independently control and design multiple favorable drug characteristics using its MVP platform, Valitor has already generated several promising preclinical compounds. We are also thrilled that Valitor was able to attract such high caliber talent as Steve. We look forward to his collaborative leadership to advance the company’s MVP technology into clinical programs and to demonstrate its potential for differentiated attributes to improve the lives of patients.”
“I am delighted to join Wes, who co-founded Valitor and previously served as its CEO, and Sandy, who has been a long-time business advisor to the company, as a member of the executive leadership team charged with advancing Valitor to its next stages of growth,” said Steven Lo, chief executive officer of Valitor. “The company’s lead program VLTR-557 is a highly engineered anti-VEGF antibody conjugate that, based on our preclinical data, is expected be efficacious with just twice-yearly dosing and has an exceptional safety profile. Currently available therapies for wet AMD require injections as frequently as once monthly, and patient adherence and therefore vision preservation suffers as a consequence. With VLTR-557, we have an opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of these patients. Also importantly, our platform technology can be applied to a variety of disease types, and we already have a strong pipeline behind our lead candidate.”
Valitor is positioned to rapidly advance a pipeline of therapies, initially focused on clinically-validated mechanisms for indications where there are opportunities to address unmet patient/clinician needs with new medicines that offer optimized pharmacological properties. Valitor has designed its MVP platform with interchangeable bioactive molecules and biopolymers, which enables accelerated development of additional product candidates. Valitor has been able to leverage validated assets to generate new compounds optimized to treat additional indications in ophthalmology, thereby de-risking the company’s pipeline expansion. Additional research is being conducted to develop pipeline product candidates in oncology that activate the local tumor microenvironment and enable highly selective targeting of difficult-to-treat cancers, and in rheumatology for the development of long-acting anti-inflammatory therapies.
Executive Leadership Team
Steven Lo, Chief Executive Officer
Steven Lo is Chief Executive Officer of Valitor. He has over 25 years of experience in health care, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, including over 12 years of C-level experience in publicly traded biotech companies. Prior to Valitor, Mr. Lo was the president, chief executive officer and member of the board of directors of Zosano Pharma. From 2015 to 2019, he was the chief commercial officer at Puma Biotechnology where he led the worldwide commercialization and business development of the company’s first product. Previously, he was chief commercial officer of Corcept Therapeutics, where he formed the commercial organization to launch the company’s first product, an endocrine specialty medication for a rare orphan disease. Earlier in his career, he spent 13 years at Genentech, the US subsidiary of Roche, in a variety of leadership roles of increasing responsibility in market access, marketing and sales, and drug development, working in numerous therapeutic areas, including oncology, endocrinology and other specialty therapeutics. Mr. Lo started his career in the pharmaceutical industry at AstraZeneca after holding positions in finance and operations at Kaiser Permanente. Mr. Lo obtained a Masters in Health Administration from the University of Southern California and a B.S. in Microbiology from U.C. Davis.
Wesley Jackson, Ph.D., President & Chief Scientific Officer
Wesley Jackson, Ph.D., has been actively involved in biotechnology entrepreneurship for over 12 years and served as a scientist and researcher since 2000. Dr. Jackson was part of Valitor's founding team and helped to in-license the novel protein-bioploymer conjugation technology, which now forms the basis of Valitor’s MVP platform, from U.C. Berkeley. Since launching Valitor, he has been the principal investigator on nine NIH projects to optimize the manufacturing, characterization, and formulation of multivalent protein conjugate drugs and to evaluate their performance in relevant disease models. Prior to Valitor, Dr. Jackson was a consultant for biotech startups providing expertise in establishing and implementing preclinical and clinical development plans, including feasibility studies. Prior to his industry tenure, he was a scientist and researcher affiliated with several universities, including U.C. Berkeley, and governmental agencies, such as National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Dr. Jackson has a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the U.C. San Francisco and U.C. Berkeley, an M.S. in Bioengineering from U.C. San Francisco, and a B.S. in Bioengineering from U.C. Berkeley.
William S. (Sandy) White, Chief Development Officer
Sandy White, R.Ph., M.B.A., has over 35 years of broad pharmaceutical industry experience including general management, business development, research and development, and sales and marketing. Mr. White previously served as the chief executive officer of iDrop, Inc., a company focused on the development and commercialization of novel ophthalmic pharmaceuticals. He developed the company’s two initial portfolio product candidates. Prior to that, as CEO of Icon Bioscience, Mr. White established a pipeline of eight ophthalmology products, including the FDA-approved product, Dexycu®, and executed multiple collaboration and partnership agreements. Mr. White was also the CEO of the Research Foundation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and president of Integrated Protein Technologies, a unit of Monsanto. He has held additional technical management positions, including vice president of business development and licensing, Pharmaceutical R&D for Storz Ophthalmics. Mr. White has an M.B.A. from the Virginia Commonwealth University, a B.S. in Pharmacy from the Medical College of Virginia (VCU), and a B.A. in Biology from the University of Virginia.
Kevin Healy, Ph.D.
Kevin E. Healy, Ph.D., is the Jan Fandrianto and Selfia Halim Distinguished Professor in Engineering at the U.C. Berkeley in the Departments of Bioengineering, and Materials Science and Engineering. He received a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rochester and a M.Eng and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a thought leader and innovator working at the interface between biology and materials science to develop dynamic engineered systems to generate new technologies in translational medicine. His group currently conducts research in the areas of: bioinspired stem cell microenvironments to control stem cell lineage specification/self-organization into microtissues or organoids, bioinspired systems for regenerative medicine, biological interface, and microphysiological systems for drug development. Professor Healy is an elected fellow of AIMBE, AAAS, FBSE, BMES, and a recipient of an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Award. He is an inventor of numerous issued United States and international patents relating to biomaterials, therapeutics, stem cells, and medical devices, and has founded several companies to develop these systems for applications in biotechnology and regenerative medicine.
David Schaffer, Ph.D.
David Schaffer, Ph.D., is the Hubbard Howe Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Bioengineering, and Molecular and Cell Biology at the U.C. Berkeley, and he also serves as the executive director of QB3 and the director of the Bakar Bioenginuity Hub and Bakar Labs. He received a B.S. from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from MIT, both in chemical engineering. He then conducted a postdoctoral fellowship at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies before joining Berkeley in 1999. His group applies engineering principles to optimize gene and biologic therapies, which has led to the development of technologies that are being used in 8 human clinical trials. In addition to Valitor, he has co-founded seven other companies, including 4D Molecular Therapeutics (NASDAQ FDMT), Ignite Immunotherapies (acquired by Pfizer) and Rewrite (acquired by Intellia). Finally, Dr. Schaffer has received recognitions including the National Academy of Inventors, Andreas Acrivos Professional Progress Award, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Pharmaceutical and Bioengineering Award, the American Chemical Society Marvin Johnson Award, and the Biomedical Engineering Society Rita Shaffer Young Investigator Award.
About the MVP Technology
Valitor’s Multivalent Polymer (MVP) technology platform originated at U.C. Berkeley. The MVP platform is based on proprietary multi-valent biopolymers that are coupled with bioactive molecules. The biopolymers and bioactive molecules are interchangeable, which enables Valitor to assemble novel macromolecular entities that are engineered to overcome a multitude of specific drug design challenges for their target indications. Unlike other methods of drug modification that are designed to modify individual drug properties, Valitor’s novel approach allows for independent control of multiple drug attributes, including pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic properties, improved target engagement/tissue localization, therapeutic durability, and improved safety. In research studies, Valitor’s novel compounds have shown >1,000-fold increases in potency, up to 10-fold increases in tissue retention, and excellent preclinical safety.
Valitor is conquering limitations of established drug targets by leveraging its multi-valent biopolymer technology to maximize benefits for patients. The company is engineering disruptive medicines that optimize how and where disease mechanisms are targeted to produce the most significant clinical impact. Valitor is initially focused on improving patient outcomes in ophthalmology and vision-threatening diseases. The company has won numerous awards and grants, including from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Eye Institute (NEI), National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), among others. Valitor is based at the Bakar BioEnginuity Hub at U.C. Berkeley. For more information on the company, please visit its website at https://www.valitorbio.com/ or follow its LinkedIn page.
Investor and Media Contacts