Metastatix, a two-year-old drug development startup, has closed on $20 million in Series B financing.

The Aurora Funds in Durham, N.C. is a backer of Metastatix and participated in the B round.

The funds will be used to advance the lead drug candidate, MSX-122, for Metastatix, which would be used in cancer patients. Metastatix also plans to step up its development efforts for technology targeting inflammation and HIV infection.

Frazier Healthcare Ventures led the round. Also participating were Frazier Healthcare Ventures, H.I.G. Ventures, S.R. One, the Georgia Tech Advanced Technology Development Center, CM Capital, MedImmune Ventures, Georgia Venture Partners and Centrosome Ventures.

“To have an industry leader like Frazier Healthcare take the lead in this Series B round confirms that the therapeutics we are developing satisfy unmet medical needs and have a high potential value,” said Tony Shuker, chief executive officer at Metastatix

James Topper, a general partner at Frazier and an MD, will join the board of directors at Matastatix as part of the deal.

“We have been extremely impressed by the caliber of the programs and the team at Metastatix,” Topper said in a statement. “We are pleased to have led this round, which will provide the capital to transition Metastatix to a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company, with several compelling programs in cancer, infectious disease, and inflammation.”
Shuker said Topper would be a boost for Metastatix.

“Dr. Topper will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to our operations and we look forward to his strong leadership helping Metastatix to achieve its goals,” Shuker said.

In September of 2006, Metastatix raised a $3.6 million A round, with H.I.G. Ventures leading. Aurora was among the other investors in that round.

Metastatix was founded in 2005. The company’s technology is licensed from Emory University. The firm is targeting HIV and cancer.

As its name implies, the company targets cancer that has metastasized, or spread. According to the company, Metastatix’s lead compound is able to inhibit both primary tumor growth as well as prevent metastasis.

The technology was developed at Emory by Dr. Dennis Liotta. Liotta discovered three drugs that are now commercial, including Gilead’s Emtriva, which part of the world’s top selling HIV cocktail, Truvada. Gilead purchased the royalty interest to Emtriva from Emory for a one-time cash payment of $525 million in 2005.