Vergent Bioscience has announced the close of a $21.5 million Series B financing. Vergent will use the funds to advance clinical development of VGT-309, the company’s targeted fluorescent imaging agent that enables surgeons to see previously undetected or difficult-to-find tumors in real-time, ensuring all tumor tissue is removed during open, minimally invasive (MIS) and robotic-assisted surgical procedures.
Orlando Health Ventures led the financing with significant participation from new investors Intuitive Surgical, Inc., Windham Venture Partners, and Rex Health Ventures, as well as additional investment from existing investors Spring Mountain Capital and Colle Capital. The Series B funding brings the total raised by Vergent to date to $34 million.
“We are grateful for the support from this world-class group of investors who share our belief that
VGT-309 is a highly differentiated imaging agent that will help surgeons realize the full potential of minimally invasive and robotic-assisted surgery by improving the visibility of tumors,” said John Santini, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer at Vergent Bioscience. “Our previous clinical studies have validated the potential of VGT-309, and these additional funds will enable us to efficiently advance our current and future clinical trials in lung cancer.”
Vergent intentionally designed VGT-309 to enable a complete solution for optimal tumor visualization during open, MIS, and robotic-assisted surgical procedures. VGT-309 is delivered to patients via a short infusion several hours before surgery. The molecule binds tightly (i.e., covalently) to cathepsins, a family of proteases that are highly overexpressed across a broad range of solid tumors, providing distinct clinical advantages and positioning it as an ideal tumor imaging agent. VGT-309’s imaging component is the near infrared (NIR) dye indocyanine green (ICG), which is compatible with all commercially available NIR intraoperative imaging systems that support MIS technologies and is the preferred dye to minimize confounding background autofluorescence.
Vergent is developing VGT-309 for multiple solid tumors starting with lung cancer. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the United States; however, surgery can be curative when the disease is diagnosed early and all tumor tissue is removed. The majority of lung cancer surgery is now performed using minimally invasive approaches, which have multiple advantages for patients but require that surgeons work in a small area with a restricted view and limited tactile clues, presenting the potential for tumor to be missed and left behind.
Based on compelling safety and efficacy data from early Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials in Australia evaluating VGT-309 in lung cancer, Vergent recently initiated a Phase 2 clinical trial at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to supporting this Phase 2 study and an upcoming multicenter study, funds from the Series B financing will enable Vergent to expand development of VGT-309 to colorectal, gastrointestinal, and breast cancer.
“We are confident in Vergent Bioscience’s ability to successfully advance its clinical program based on the science supporting VGT-309 and the world-class leadership team driving it, who have an exceptional track record in the discovery and development of new technologies that transform patient care,” said Margo Shoup, M.D., M.B.A., vice president at Orlando Health and president at the Orlando Health Cancer Institute, who will join the Vergent Board of Directors as part of the Series B financing. “As minimally invasive surgery becomes the standard-of-care treatment for an increasing number of solid tumors, there is a corresponding, growing need for improved imaging agents that enable surgeons to better visualize tumors during these surgeries to obtain sufficient but not excessive negative margins. We believe that VGT-309 is distinctively well-suited to meet this need.”
 American Cancer Society. “Risk of Dying from Cancer Continues to Drop at an Accelerated Pace.” https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/facts-and-figures-2022.html Accessed September 2022.
Source: Vergent Bioscience