INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 20, 2021) – Kovina Therapeutics announced the recent close of a $2 million seed round of financing led by Elevate Ventures. Other participating investors include BioCrossroads, IU Ventures, individual members of senior management and select investors in the Indiana life science community.
Founded in 2020, Kovina is a pre-clinical biotechnology company developing first-in-class antiviral therapies to treat cancers and pre-cancerous malignancies associated with Human Papillomavirus (HPV). The chief scientific officer and co-founder, Dr. Elliot Androphy, began collaborating with co-founders Dr. Zhijian Lu and Dr. Samy Meroueh in 2017 to identify treatment options. The team was able to produce novel compounds that selectively target and kill HPV infected cells. Kovina has licensed the intellectual property from Indiana University.
“While the HPV vaccine effectively prevents new infections, it does not treat existing infections that can progress to malignancy,” said Androphy. “An estimated 630,000 women and men worldwide are diagnosed with HPV induced cancers annually and millions more are at risk for progression of existing HPV infections. We have used powerful biotechnology tools to investigate the molecular mechanisms by which HPV proteins control the infected cell and discovered novel drug-like molecules that block the activity of the virus.”
HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world, affects millions of people and causes nearly all cervical cancers and most oropharyngeal cancers. Current treatment options are limited and have significant side effects. Kovina’s developing therapy should provide a non-surgical option for treating the cancers and pre-cancerous malignancies caused by HPV.
Kristin Sherman leads the company as CEO and director. Sherman had most recently been COO and CFO of VMS BioMarketing and previously held senior roles at Calibrium, Marcadia Biotech, and Guidant Corporation.
Dr. Karl Koehler, an advisor to Elevate Ventures, noted that, “Kristin completes the technical and business management team and provides the biomedical commercialization experience required to negotiate the regulatory and market-entry challenges ahead. This seed round, coupled with significant federal grant support, recognizes the promise of Kovina Therapeutics’ approach to managing a major disease.”
Rounding out the board of directors are Fritz French, who will continue as non-executive chairman of the board, and new directors joining the board concurrent with the financing are Sue Mahony, Ph.D., William Ringo, and Teri Willey (IU Ventures).
Kovina will use the seed funding to complete the necessary preclinical testing to optimize its existing compounds and advance into human trials.
“Elevate’s participation in our seed round and ongoing support allows Kovina to advance its science,” said Sherman. “Kovina is committed to improving outcomes for patients living with HPV-related cancers and pre-cancerous conditions.”