With Anti-CD47 Cancer Drugs Trending, Arch Takes in $105 Million for its Antibody

Money Dollar Bills

The race is on in the CD47 field, and Brisbane-based player Arch Oncology just upped the bet with a $105 million Series C raise. 

The successful financing round followed the presentation of preclinical data on its anti-CD47 antibody, AO-176, by blocking the CD47’s signal, telling microphages to “eat this, not that” to target tumor cells over healthy ones.  

The therapy is positioned to improve the safety profile of rival anti-CD47 candidates by proving a lower binding to normal cells and negligible binding to red blood cells. It also directly kills tumor cells, giving it a leg up on the competition.  

AO-176 is currently in Phase I/II trials for select solid tumors and hematologic malignancies. The drug is being tested as a monotherapy and in combination with chemo drug paclitaxel. Funding will be used to advance the candidate through the clinic. 

“Looking forward, we plan to expand the AO-176 clinical program to include a combination trial with pembrolizumab (KEYTRUDA®) in solid tumors, and a combination trial with standard therapies in multiple myeloma. We will also explore other indications and combinations consistent with our novel mechanisms of action,” said Laurence Blumberg, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Arch Oncology.  

Blumberg’s appointment to CEO was just announced three weeks ago. Prior to Arch, he co-founded and helmed Syntimmune, which was scooped up in 2018 by Alexion for a total cash consideration of up to $1.2 billion.  

A readout on the AO-176 trial is expected mid-year, potentially around the time of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in June. 

Anti-CD47 therapies have yet to be approved, but many companies are racing to be the first. Trillium Therapeutics has two anti-CD47 clinical programs in the works, advancing dose escalation studies and prepping for Phase II development. Pfizer invested $25 million in the company with a buy of 2.3 million shares last September. 

Pharma giant Gilead Sciences bought out Forty Seven in a massive $4.9 billion deal. As the name suggests, the company’s lead product targets CD47 to treat several cancers, including myelodysplastic syndrome, acute myeloid leukemia and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. 

AbbVie jumped into the race with a global collaboration with Chinese biotech I-Mab, to develop and commercialize lemzoparlimab, an anti-CD47 aimed at various cancers. Boehringer Ingelheim also struck $1.4 billion deal for rights to OSE-172, an in-licensed antibody from OSE Immunotherapeutics. 

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