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Massachusetts' Replimune Lands $55 Million, Taps Cancer Pioneer as CMO

9/8/2017 5:37:34 AM

Massachusetts' Replimune Lands $55 Million, Taps Cancer Pioneer as CMO September 8, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

WOBURN, Mass. – Two years ago, Replimune Group Inc. launched onto the immunotherapy scene with $30 million in funding. Now the company has secured an additional funding and on-boarded a leading authority on immunotherapy as its new chief medical officer as it looks to head into the clinic.

This morning, Replimune announced it tapped Howard Kaufman, the associate director for Clinical Science of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, as the newest member of its leadership team. Replimune is bringing Kaufman aboard as it looks to take its Immulytic oncolytic immunotherapy platform into the clinic. Kaufman, a former president of the Society for the Immunotherapy of Cancer, is recognized as one of the leading physician scientists in the oncolytic immunotherapy field, Replimune said this morning.

“I am excited to join Replimune, which I believe to be the leading oncolytic immunotherapy platform company and see this as the nexus of my medical and scientific interests,” Kaufman said in a statement. “I look forward to bringing these potentially powerful treatment to patients.”

Replimune is focused on developing cancer treatments through oncolytic immunotherapy. That is a therapeutic class of treatment that exploits the ability of viruses to selectively replicate in and kill tumors, while at the same time inducing a potent, patient-specific, anti-tumor immune response, the company said. Replimune’s Immulytic oncolytic immunotherapy platform is designed to work with checkpoint inhibitors, such as Merck (MRK)’s Keytruda. A combination of an oncolytic, which speeds up the body’s immune response, with a checkpoint inhibitor that brakes the tumor’s ability to block the immune response, gives researchers hope they can dramatically improve cancer treatments. Replimune’s first product, RP1, will enter clinical trials later this year.

The $55 million in Series B financing the company raised will be used to take RP1 into the clinic. Additionally the funding will be used to advance Replimune’s other product candidates from its Immulytic platform, the company said.
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The latest funding round was led by Foresite Capital who were joined by other new investors including Bain Capital Life Sciences, Redmile Group, Cormorant Asset Management and entities affiliated with Leerink Partners. Existing partners including Atlas Venture, Forbion Capital Partners and Omega Funds also participated in the latest round.

“Securing this heavily oversubscribed financing from leading life science and biotechnology investors is a significant milestone that puts Replimune in a strong financial position to advance our Immulytic-based programs into clinical trials in a broad range of solid tumor types. These funds will also enable us to establish in house GMP manufacturing capabilities in preparation for the later stage clinical development and commercialization of our products,” Robert Coffin, co-founder and chief executive officer of Replimune, said in a statement.

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