Roger Tsien, Avelas Biosciences.
Roger Tsien, Avelas Biosciences. (Photo:  UCSD)

San Diego-based Avelas Biosciences, a biotechnology company focused on developing fluorescent technologies used in cancer surgery, announced this week that it had raised $6.85 million in series B financing.

The company, founded by UCSD Nobel Prize winner Roger Tsien and Kevin Kinsella of Avalon Ventures is developing a fluorescent peptide that illuminates in the presence of protease activity, making cancerous tissue visible to surgeons in real-time.

Avelas’ product, AVB-620 will help to minimize invasive surgeries by delivering a diagnosis and luminous map of cancerous tissue present in a patient during the first surgery.  Currently surgeons must wait for pathology reports to find out biopsy results.  In pre-clinical testing, AVB-620 has been proven accurate more than 95% of the time.

The funds will be used to conduct first-in-patient studies to show proof-of-concept for AVB-620.  According to Dr. Jay Lichter, Avelas’ board chairman, Avelas’ fluorescent technology:

“…offers an objective and quantitative approach to oncologic surgical imaging that cannot be achieved using conventional techniques, which lack sensitivity and are prone to artifacts.  This new financing round will propel AVB-620 development one step closer to accurately visualizing cancer in real-time for patients.”

Avelas has raised around $14 million in financing since it’s founding in 2009.  The new round was led by Avalon Ventures, along with Torrey Pines Investment, WuXi AppTec and an unnamed investor.

For more information on Avelas Biosciences and AVB-620, please click here.