Bay Area's Tizona Therapeutics Emerges from Stealth Mode with $70 Million Total in Financing

Bay Area's Tizona Therapeutics Emerges from Stealth Mode with $70 Million Total in Financing
March 8, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO – Privately-held Tizona Therapeutics, Inc., a new company focusing on developing immuno-oncology treatments and therapies for autoimmune diseases, announced $43 million in Series B financing to help drive its treatments into clinical trials.

The new round of financing brings the total funds raised by the company to more than $70 million, Tizona said in a statement. The financing will be used to advance Tizona’s immunotherapy programs, including its lead candidate, an anti-CCR4 monoclonal antibody for the treatment of cancer, the company said in a statement. On Tizona’s website, the company said its anti-CCR4 antibody is “expected to play an instrumental role in potentiating anti-tumor immune responses by selectively depleting Tregs (regulatory T cells) and preventing them from migrating into the tumor microenvironment.” Regulatory T cells regulate the body’s immune system activity. Tizona’s lead therapy is expected to enter the clinic in 2017, the company said.

Pablo Cagnoni, president and chief executive officer of Tizona, said in a statement that he expects Tizona’s anti-CCR4 antibody to play an important role in inducing antitumor activity in cancer patients. Tizona’s therapies are designed to “modulate the activity of immunosuppressive cells,” which will ignite the body’s ability to fight cancer or prevent the immune system from attacking healthy tissues in autoimmune diseases, the company said on its website.

“We have an opportunity to contribute a potentially valuable new addition to the group of novel immunotherapies that is changing standards of care in cancer treatment. With support from this investor group, along with our renowned scientific founders and accomplished team, Tizona is well-positioned to be a leader in the development of next generation immunotherapies,” Cagnoni said.

In addition to Tizona’s anti-CCR4 antibody, the company pipeline also includes the company’s IL-35 programs. IL-35 is a recently discovered immunosuppressive cytokine, predominantly expressed by Tregs, the company said. IL-35 is involved in suppression of anti-tumor immunity through its modulation of effector T cells, as well as myeloid cells. Tzona believes blocking IL-35’s activity may reverse immune suppression in the tumor microenvironment and “lead to a robust and effective anti-tumor immune response.” Given IL-35’s potent suppressive properties, targeting this pathway also holds significant promise as a potential first-in-class treatment for autoimmune diseases, Tizona said.

The latest financing round was led by Abingworth and Canaan Partners with investments from Lightstone Ventures. Additionally MPM Capital, Amgen Ventures, Astellas Venture Management and InterWest Partners also played a role in the latest financing round. As part of the financing, Shelley Chu, a partner of Abingworth, Nina Kjellson, a partner of Canaan Partners and Jean George, general partner of Lightstone Ventures, have joined Tizona’s board of directors, the company announced.

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