Asgard Gets $32M Series A Backing from J&J, Novo and Boehringer

Gene therapy_iStock, Ilya Lukichev

Pictured: Gene therapy illustration showing an injection targeting a specific DNA site/iStock, Ilya Lukichev

Swedish-based gene therapy biotech Asgard Therapeutics has closed a €30 million ($32.6 million) Series A to advance its first-in-class in vivo cell reprogramming platform for immuno-oncology, the company announced Thursday.

The funding round was led by Johnson & Johnson Innovation and RV Invest and included participation from Novo Holdings, Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and Swedish VC fund Industrifonden. Johnson & Johnson Innovation and RV Invest representatives will join Asgard’s board.

According to Asgard, the funds will be used to get its lead asset, dubbed AT-108, to IND readiness by 2026. The effort will include the expansion of its R&D team as well as boosting new reprogramming modalities and delivery platforms for its pipeline.

The AT-108 asset is an off-the-shelf gene therapy designed to directly reprogram tumor cells into antigen-presenting dendritic cells, leading to a personalized anti-tumor immune response. Asgard has shown preclinical proof of concept in patient-derived ex vivo models and rodent in vivo models. Asgard said these proof-of-concept studies have shown “strong anti-tumor immunity and abscopal effect, even in a monotherapy setting.”

“Asgard’s technology overcomes challenges faced by traditional cell therapies, enabling the recreation of desired functional immune cells directly inside the patient’s body,” Asgard CEO Cristiana Pires said in a statement. “We believe this breakthrough strategy will give rise to the next generation of cell therapies. This financing also follows a strong preclinical package providing PoC for AT-108.”

According to Asgard, the AT-108 candidate is based on a “replication-deficient adenoviral vector” able to deliver three transcription factors into the tumor cells, change the gene expression signatures, and ultimately reprogram them into Tyle 1 Dendritic Cells which can form anti-tumor immunity. 

“Asgard’s unique approach to cancer immunotherapy by using direct cell reprogramming has great potential to create personalized treatments at scale which could be used in many cancer indications,” Aleksei Zeifman, investment manager of RV Invest, said in a statement. “We’ve been impressed by the elegance of the technology and robustness of the scientific package generated by Asgard’s team.”

The company is not the only European gene therapy biotech to recently net a Series A. In February 2024, U.K.-based MIP Discovery closed a £ 7 million ($8.9 million) Series A round to boost its development of cell and gene therapies. 

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at tyler.patchen@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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