WALTHAM, Mass. and CAMBRIDGE, England, Dec. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Domantis, the human Domain Antibody (dAb) therapeutics company, today announced that it has raised US$29 million (17 million pounds Sterling) from new investors Novo Nordisk and MC Life Science Ventures, Inc. (a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation), together with its existing investors. Domantis has raised a total of $83 million since its inception in 2000.
Commenting on the financing, Domantis' CEO, Robert Connelly, said, "Domantis' twelve lead programs are based on novel dAb products for treating major diseases including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and colorectal cancer. This financing, together with the growing revenue stream from our nine partnerships, provides sufficient resources to fund the clinical development of these programs. We believe the significant potential of these products, the capacity of the dAb discovery engine to produce new drug candidates each year and our validating partnerships will help Domantis become a major biotech success story."
Domantis has recently achieved a number of significant milestones including the in vivo validation of several of the most novel dAb therapeutic formats such as pulmonary administered dAbs for treating lung disease and dual targeting dAbs, where a single antibody product can address two completely different therapeutic targets. The pre-clinical development of its proprietary and partner dAb products is progressing very well with several on- track to enter the clinic in 2007. Additional therapeutic partnerships have been signed with Argenta Discovery, Tanox and Peptech, culminating with a multi-year, multi-million dollar therapeutic alliance with Bristol-Myers Squibb that was announced earlier this month.
"This financing achieves our objectives of securing four years of funding at a significant uplift in valuation while attracting prominent strategic investors," added Mr Connelly. "Novo Nordisk is the leading biotechnology company in Europe and has a major commitment to developing novel biologics. Mitsubishi Corporation can assist Domantis in executing our commercial strategy in the Pacific Rim. Both companies undertook extensive due diligence prior to investing and their confidence and commitment is rewarding."
Dr Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, Executive Vice President and Chief Science Officer, Novo Nordisk added, "We are pleased to join Domantis as shareholders. The investment fits very well with Novo Nordisk's general strategy of establishing a portfolio of venture capital investments in promising biopharmaceutical companies".
Notes to Editors
Domantis is a drug development company that is leveraging its proprietary dominance in human dAbs to deliver therapies which address large, unmet medical needs including inflammation, cancer, respiratory and autoimmune diseases. In less than three years it has initiated more than a dozen proprietary therapeutic programs including preclinical dAb therapeutics for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and colorectal cancer.
Therapeutic antibodies are a major commercial opportunity. Seventeen monoclonal antibodies have been approved for use to date and these are expected to generate sales exceeding $9 billion by 2006. Fully human dAbs, the smallest possible binding fragments of full antibodies, combine the therapeutic benefits of small molecule drugs (formulation and administration versatility, wide therapeutic target range, low cost) with those of full human antibodies (enormous diversity, high specificity, lower toxicity). Thus they have very broad therapeutic relevance.
The growing antibody market and the commercial potential of dAbs makes Domantis an attractive partner for the pharmaceutical industry and it has already struck deals with Bristol Myers Squibb, Peptech, Abbott Laboratories, ImClone, Tanox and Argenta Discovery whilst also attracting funding from the European Union for several therapeutic collaborations. A series of dAb therapies derived from these collaborations should begin to enter the clinic in 2007.
Monoclonal antibodies were invented in the 1970's at the UK Medical Research Council's Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC-LMB), which has remained at the forefront of therapeutic antibody research since that time. In 1989, scientists in the LMB laboratories of Sir Gregory Winter published the discovery of dAbs. This discovery led to the creation of an extensive portfolio of intellectual property covering the development and use of dAbs, the binding domains of fully human antibodies. Domantis has exclusive licenses and assignments to these pioneering inventions for dAb products and extensive intellectual property covering dAb libraries, methods of discovery, compositions, and formulations of dAbs. As a result, Domantis is the only company capable of fully exploiting the commercial therapeutic applications of human dAbs.
Sir Gregory and Dr Ian Tomlinson, world-renowned scientists from the MRC-LMB, launched Domantis in December 2000. Sir Gregory was also a founder of Cambridge Antibody Technology (CAT) plc. To date Domantis has raised $83 million from investors including Novo Nordisk, MC Life Science Ventures, 3i, Gray Ghost, Albany Ventures, MVM Limited, ISIS and Peptech Limited. Domantis employs over 50 staff and has laboratory facilities in Cambridge, UK and commercial offices in Waltham, Massachusetts, US. See also http://www.domantis.com.