- Nucleus RadioPharma, a Minnesota-based startup designed to manufacture radioisotope cancer treatments, said Tuesday it has raised $56 million in a Series A round.
- The funding came from a mix of venture investors and academic institutions, including Eclipse Ventures, GE HealthCare, the Mayo Clinic and the University of Missouri. The Mayo Clinic in 2022 launched Nucleus together with Eclipse.
- Nucleus aims to become a go-to partner for the development and production of radiopharmaceutical medicines, and sees its relationship with the Mayo Clinic, which runs many cancer drug trials, as an advantage. Some of the news funds will go toward building a supply chain facility near the institution’s home base of Rochester, Minnesota.
Radiopharmaceuticals are designed to deliver radioactive material directly to cancer cells, killing them and sparing healthy tissue.
Scientists, investors and drugmakers are betting the targeted drugs can offer a more effective way to treat certain tumors, such as those of the prostate and gut. That bet has been borne out by the approval and commercial success of Novartis’ treatments Pluvicto and Lutathera, spurring investment into a wave of new research by companies like RayzeBio, Aktis Oncology and Mariana Oncology.
Earlier this month, Eli Lilly bought into the field with a $1.4 billion buyout of Point Biopharma, its pipeline and Indianapolis manufacturing facility.
But a major roadblock to the drugs’ development remains. Radiopharmaceuticals are hard to produce at scale, due in part to limited supplies of radioactive materials and limitations on how they're transported.
They also have to be produced and delivered quickly to ensure the efficacy of their radioactive components. The radioactive isotope inside the drug may only have days, or sometimes hours, to be administered to a patient before it degrades.
To overcome those challenges, Nucleus plans to open “multiple large regional sites” across the U.S. to meet demand for radiopharmaceutical production. This planned scale, Nucleus claims, will make it unique in the sector.
“Our objective is to assist companies in identifying and developing molecules at the preliminary stage, and subsequently ensure their commercial delivery,” Conroy said in an email to BioPharma Dive. “To date, we have yet to see any other company with the capability or intent to execute this plan as we envision.”
In June, Nucleus announced an agreement with NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes for supply of the radioactive isotope actinium-225.