SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Agensys, Inc., a privately held biotechnology company, today announced that it has raised $41.3 million through a Series D financing co-led by Duquesne Capital Management, L.L.C. and JAFCO Co. Ltd. Also participating in this round were new investors Innovis Investments and Nextech Venture, Ltd. as well as existing investors Bear Stearns Health Innoventures, Alta Partners, HBM BioVentures, Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch & Cie, H&Q Life Sciences Investments, and Orbimed Associates. The company also announced that Kenan Turnacioglu, Ph.D., Managing Director at Duquesne Capital Management, and Hironori Hozoji, Investment Officer of JAFCO Life Science Investment, have joined Agensys' board of directors.
"We are gratified with the reception we had for this financing in the investment community. It's a reflection of our large antibody product pipeline addressing unmet medical needs in cancer. We also offer significant internal antibody development capabilities, very strong corporate alliances, and a seasoned management team," said Donald B. Rice, Ph.D., Chairman, President and CEO of Agensys. "We will use the proceeds to advance our lead program through phase 2 and bring 3 more products into clinical development by the end of 2008.
"We are also quite pleased to add Kenan Turnacioglu and Hironori Hozoji to our board of directors. They are both experienced investors in later stage private companies with valuable experience in the biotechnology industry."
"Therapeutic antibody companies are generating considerable interest among investors and corporate partners," added Hironori Hozoji. "Agensys is a compelling opportunity with proprietary cancer targets, leading antibody technology, and a strong pipeline."
Agensys has 12 antibody (MAb) programs in its product pipeline. AGS-PSCA, partnered with Merck & Co., Inc., is the lead program and is in clinical development for prostate cancer. AGS-PSCA is a high affinity, fully human IgG(1)k MAb directed to PSCA, generated using XenoMouse® technology. PSCA is expressed at significant levels on tumor cells from a majority of patients with all stages of prostate, pancreatic, and bladder cancers. Efficacy studies utilizing human specimens of these tumors in xenograft mouse models have consistently demonstrated that AGS-PSCA significantly inhibits both tumor growth and metastases. This MAb was well tolerated at all phase 1 doses and pharmacokinetic studies demonstrate a long half life and no antibody sink, enabling a convenient dosing regimen.
The Company is targeting to file an IND in 2007 for AGS-16M18, a fully human antibody to its proprietary target AGS-16. This target is expressed in more than 90% of patients with kidney cancer and is involved in cell proliferation, invasion, and angiogenesis. Both AGS-PSCA and AGS-16M18 are so called "naked antibodies" which demonstrate anti-tumor activity when they bind the respective target and modulate its function.
In a strategic move to broaden its pipeline beyond naked MAbs, Agensys announced earlier this year a broad collaboration with Seattle Genetics, Inc. to develop four antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) products. The ADCs will combine Agensys proprietary targets and fully human MAbs with Seattle Genetics' linker and toxin technology. ADCs impact tumors differently than naked MAbs, as the antibody is used as a vehicle to deliver the toxin inside tumor cells leading to their killing. The collaboration is structured to develop 2 products on a 50-50 basis with Seattle Genetics and 2 products solely by Agensys. Work has begun on the first product, an ADC to the Agensys target, AGS-5, which is being developed as one of the 50-50 products in the collaboration. AGS-5 is expressed in prostate, lung, breast, and ovarian cancers.
About Duquesne Capital Management
Duquesne Capital Management, L.L.C. ("Duquesne") was founded by Stanley F. Druckenmiller in 1981 and is one of the world's premier investment management firms. Mr. Druckenmiller serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and is the majority owner of Duquesne. From 1988 to 2000, Mr. Druckenmiller was a Managing Director at Soros Fund Management L.L.C., where he served as Manager of the Quantum Fund N.V. and Chief Investment Officer (1989-2000) and had overall responsibility for funds with a peak asset value of $22 billion. Duquesne has offices in New York City and in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
About JAFCO Co. Ltd.
JAFCO Co. Ltd. is the parent company of JAFCO Life Science Investment, a Tokyo-based, publicly traded venture capital firm with investment partnerships worldwide. Founded in 1973, JAFCO has managed over 60 investment funds globally through its offices in North America, Japan, China, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and other parts of the world. The charter of JAFCO Life Science Investment is to invest in U.S.-based later stage biopharmaceutical and medical device companies and create significant values of investee companies through partnerships with Japanese companies. JAFCO has extensive networks with pharmaceutical and medical device companies in Japan and holds the JAFCO Biotechnology Conference in November of every year in Tokyo.
About Agensys, Inc.
Agensys, Inc. is a privately held biotechnology company that is developing a pipeline of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) to treat solid tumor cancers. These antibodies, many of which are fully human, are being generated to a diverse portfolio of proprietary, clinically relevant cancer targets that encompass 14 types of solid tumors. The company has the capabilities to generate, develop and manufacture and move into clinical trials antibody products and, through a partnership with Amgen Inc. (formerly Abgenix), access to the XenoMouse® technology to generate fully human antibodies to multiple targets. Agensys is progressing a pipeline of preclinical MAb candidates with potential as naked or payload-conjugated therapeutic products directed at a variety of cancer indications, including prostate, kidney, bladder, pancreas, lung, colon, ovary, breast, and skin. Agensys has initiated clinical trials with AGS-PSCA, a fully human MAb to Prostate Stem Cell Antigen (PSCA), a novel target expressed in the majority of prostate, pancreatic, and bladder cancers. AGS-PSCA is being co-developed with Merck & Co, Inc. and is currently in clinical development. In parallel to developing certain antibody products, Agensys has established partnerships to develop and commercialize selected antibody products with Genentech, Inc. and cancer vaccine applications for its proprietary targets with sanofi pasteur. The company's laboratories, GMP manufacturing facility, and offices are located in Santa Monica, California. For further information about Agensys, please visit http://www.agensys.com.
Donald B. Rice, Chairman, President and CEO
Paul G. Kanan, Vice President of Operations and CFO
Aya Jakobovits, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and CSO
Casey Sayre & Williams
Source: Agensys, Inc.