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ELIAS gears up for $4m financing with addition of Stephanus and Sewell


Jun 14, 2018 - Animal Pharm
By Sian Lazell 
Animal Pharm
June 14, 2018 


ELIAS Animal Health has added considerable expertise to its board as it continues to work towards commercialization of its immunotherapy candidates and an upcoming financing round.

The Olathe, Kansas-based firm has appointed Steve Sewell chief operating officer, as well as adding Lee Herron to its scientific advisory board, and Julia Stephanus and Kip Wiggins as board members.

Mr Sewell joins ELIAS after spending 10 years at Mars Petcare. He joined Mars as part of the Greenies brand acquisition and most recently served as market director of Mars Horsecare US. He has an extensive background in sales and marketing leadership in technology and consumer focused companies. Mr Sewell also has expertise in strategic planning, new business development, distribution management, financial management and talent development.

In his new role, Mr Sewell will be responsible for driving commercialization, sales and marketing at ELIAS, and will hold a key role in the firm's the next round of financing.

Dr Herron directs the Georgia Research Alliance's (GRA) venture development program, which has launched 180 companies and gathered over $1 billion in equity investment. Dr Herron serves on the board of various biosciences and life sciences firms, in addition to being part of numerous advisory committees. He was also chairman of the 2017 Georgia BIO Life Science Summit.

Ms Stephanus is founder and president of Avviare, a consulting practice focused on assisting both start-ups and established businesses in the veterinary biopharmaceuticals field. With a career spanning 30 years in the veterinary pharmaceutical industry, Ms Stephanus was previously chief commercial officer of Aratana Therapeutics, founder and chief executive of Summit VetPharm (now part of Ceva Santé Animale), and head of global companion animal marketing for Pfizer Animal Health (now Zoetis).

She has been involved in the development and launch of 28 veterinary products including multiple breakthrough pain management treatments and parasiticides.

Mr Wiggins recently retired as a partner of Stinson Leonard Street. In the past, he has been vice chair of the firm's finance division and a chair of its venture capital and private equity capital practice group.

Since 1975, Mr Wiggins' work has focused on finance, mergers and acquisitions, venture capital, private equity, angel investments and emerging businesses. He is an active member of Mid-America Angels and has made nearly 20 investments in emerging businesses. Mr Wiggins is also a member of the Investment Committee of Leawood VC Fund I.

Candidate progress, financing and relocation

ELIAS is developing an autologous cancer immunotherapy for the treatment of dogs with osteosarcoma. It has now applied to the USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics for conditional licensure of the candidate. Preliminary osteosarcoma results from a study of the treatment will be reported imminently at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) Forum.

Earlier in 2018, ELIAS' autologous cancer immunotherapy was featured as a 'State of the Art' presentation at the Veterinary Cancer Society Mid-Year Conference.

The company has also now completed enrolment for a small pilot study in dogs diagnosed with splenic hemangiosarcoma and designed a clinical study for bladder cancer (transitional cell carcinoma) in dogs.

Noe Reyes, medical director at the firm, said: "ELIAS has made significant strides in the last year by completing enrolment in its appendicular osteosarcoma clinical studies in dogs and we are excited about the preliminary results that Dr Flesner will be reporting at ACVIM."

Dr Wahaus added: "With nearly 60 dogs treated to date through the collaborations with veterinary schools and specialty animal hospitals, the company is forging ahead with its plans to bring the ELIAS autologous cancer immunotherapies to the veterinary sector for the treatment of cancer in dogs.

"The company will be pursuing a financing round estimated at $4 million in 2018 to support the initiation of the commercial pilot study, expansion of its clinical trials in other canine cancers, and its relocation into a larger manufacturing facility."

ELIAS gave Animal Pharm an insight into its T-cell immunotherapy back in 2015. It later initiated a clinical trial to examine the safety and efficacy of its cancer immunotherapy as a treatment for B-cell lymphoma in dogs 2016. Later in the year, the firm expanded with a new clinical trial lab for testing the immunotherapy as a treatment for newly-diagnosed appendicular osteosarcoma in dogs.

ELIAS bagged $800,000 in angel investment in 2017. The pet oncology space is market with huge potential, due to animals living longer, rising pet ownership, people spending more on their pets and the translational aspects of companion animal oncology to human medicine.

Reprinted with permission of Animal Pharm News

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