Our Foundation

Aura Biosciences was created to revolutionize the treatment of cancer through a new class of medicines that kill cancer cells selectively, while sparing surrounding tissue. Our technology use exquisite selectivity to deliver potent therapies directly where they are needed, without the limitations brought by lack of tumor specificity.

Our most advanced platform builds on core discoveries made by Dr. John T. Schiller at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), who demonstrated that virus-like particles modeled on the human papilloma virus will selectively attach to solid tumors and metastases without binding to normal epithelium. Dr. Schiller and Dr. Doug Lowy, also at NCI, were jointly awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President Obama in 2014.

Building on Dr. Schiller’s core discovery, we have engineered viral nanoparticle conjugates (VNCs) that deliver potent cytotoxic therapies that can selectively eliminate cancer cells through ophthalmic laser activation in the back of the eye, without damaging the retina or other ocular structures. This selective binding and tumor elimination has been demonstrated in animal tumor models that accurately reproduce the biology of the human disease, and clinical testing is currently underway. Beyond this initial application, Aura is advancing this approach in a variety of other cancers, including, bladder, and head and neck, where there is a high unmet medical need for better local targeted therapies that can eliminate the current co-morbidities of surgery and radiotherapy.


Targeted therapies redefined

We are redefining “targeted” therapies. Aided by advances in the understanding of tumor cell biology and drug design, our cancer therapies bind to unique surface molecules that differentiate cancer cells from normal cells. We selectively obliterate cancer cells through a rapid and physical mechanism of cell membrane disruption, creating a true advance over both imprecise and toxic systemic chemotherapies and targeted therapies that act on individual cell-signaling pathways, where resistance is difficult to overcome.

Our vision is a new class of therapies that have a durable treatment effect across many types of cancer and creates unique therapeutic opportunities for rare cancers that have no treatment options today.


Our first product candidate, light-activated AU-011, is currently being investigated in a Phase 1b study for the primary treatment of patients with small-to-medium primary ocular melanoma (OM). This open-label, single ascending dose clinical trial is designed to evaluate the safety, immunogenicity and preliminary efficacy of two dose levels of AU-011.  AU-011 for ocular melanoma (OM) has been granted orphan drug designation in the United States. If you are a patient or physician and would like to learn more about our clinical trial for light-activated AU-011, please visit www.clinicaltrials.gov or contact clinical@aurabiosciences.com.

We are also advancing preclinical programs in other conditions where this approach could revolutionize treatment for patients with life-threatening cancers, including bladder and head and neck carcinomas.