Biopharma Money on the Move: November 4-10
Here's a look at which companies are raking in cash this week in the biopharma industry.
Committed to combatting cancer with precision, Apollomics plans to use the $124.2 million Series C financing to focus clinical efforts on its lead programs: APL-101 and APL-106. APL-101 is an oral c-MET inhibitor currently involved in several ongoing clinical trials. The SPARTA trial is in Phase II, targeting non-small cell lung cancer, glioblastoma multiforme and solid tumors with MET amplifications. APL-106 is a first-in-class targeted inhibitor designed to block E-selectin, an adhesion molecule on cells in bone marrow, from binding with blood cancer cells. It has received Breakthrough Therapy Designation from the FDA in relapsed and refractory acute myeloid leukemia. In 2019, Apollomics raised $100 million in a Series B round.
Decibel Therapeutics made some noise this week with an oversubscribed Series D financing, raking in $82.2 million. The company will use the funds to advance DB-OTO, a gene therapy to restore hearing in children with congenital deafness due to a deficiency in the otoferlin gene. Clinical testing is expected to initiate in 2022. DB-020 is already in a phase Ib study with cancer patients as a preventative treatment for the ototoxicity associated with cisplatin-based chemotherapy. “Hearing and balance disorders have historically been overlooked by the biopharma industry, even though they exact a devastating toll on the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the globe. At Decibel, we are dedicated to restoring hearing and balance with precision therapeutics designed to deliver the right genetic medicine specifically to the right cells in the ear,” said Laurence Reid, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Decibel.
After launching in June with $50 million, Adagio has pocketed another $80 million in a Series B financing round to take its COVID-19 antibody into the clinic next year. Adagio’s neutralizing monoclonal antibodies are expected to provide broad protection against not only against SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1, but also additional bat coronaviruses that have yet to cross the species barrier. Adagio got the green light from the FDA to proceed with their first-in-human study in early 2021. “We were impressed by the thoughtful approach that Adagio took. By dealing with the broader coronavirus problem, we expect ADG20 to be more resistant to escape mutations and potentially cover future coronavirus pandemics,” said Krishna Yeshwant, Managing Partner at GV. “As a preventative agent, ADG20 holds the promise of providing the efficacy necessary to deliver greater protection against COVID-19. Given its unique combination of attributes, ADG20 could complement and supplement vaccines by providing rapid, durable antibody protection against current and future coronaviruses.”
Drug development company Inmagene has its eye on being number one in immunology in China. The $21 million Series B closed this week will be pumped into conducting global clinical trials, research and development, and product in-licensing activities. Currently candidate IMG-020 is in a Phase II psoriasis trial, with a strong safety profile and clear clinical benefits giving it best-in-class potential. Manufactured in an E. coli system, IMG-020 is less than 1/20th of the average manufacturing cost of a typical antibody drug. The candidate is about to enter global registration trials for multiple indications.
It’s been a busy season for this CRISPR-engineer. In September, Locus signed a $144 million contract with BARDA to develop their product targeting E. coli bacteria causing recurrent urinary tract infections. This week they closed a $14.4 million deal with CARB-X to advance development of LBP-KP01, another CRISPR Cas3-enhanced bacteriophage (crPhage) product, targeting K. pneumoniae. The initial indication will be to target recurrent UTIs, then development for targeting lung infections (pneumonia), intra-abdominal infections (IAIs) and bacteremia. Together, the two cocktails have the potential to treat more than 90% of UTIs. A unique dual mechanism of bacteria-hunting bacteriophages along with the DNA-targeting CRISPR-Cas3 makes Locus’ candidates significantly more effective at killing the targeted bacteria cells, regardless of whether they are resistant to antibiotics. Both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have identified antibiotic-resistant K. pneumoniae as an urgent and serious public health threat requiring development of new treatments.
Swiss innovator Memo Therapeutics has raised over $15.3 million in a Series B primarily to advance its COVID-19 antibody treatment. The company entered into a partnership with Northway Biotechpharma in August to manufacture MTX-COVAB, which is currently going through a fast-tracked development path as an immunotherapy and a preventative of the novel coronavirus. Memo plans to begin clinical studies in 2021. Proceeds will also be used to advance its neutralizing antibody MTX-005 against BK virus infection in renal transplant patients into Phase II studies. "We believe Memo Therapeutics AG has taken innovation in the field of antibody discovery to the next level. Their ability to exploit the power of microfluidic single-cell molecular cloning could not only serve to move one step closer to conquer the COVID pandemic but also potentially other infectious diseases and cancer,” said Dr. Robert Schier, Investment Director at Swisscanto Invest.
Pushing the boundaries of dimensional testing, Trailhead is increasing the speed, lowering the cost and reducing the risk of developing cell therapies. A $6.6 million infusion of cash will expand the company’s High Dimensional Design of Experiments platform (HD-DoE) to support the generation of multiple specialized human cells with therapeutic properties and their pilot scale manufacturing. Trailhead’s aim is to rapidly develop the capability to create highly pure, specialized human cell types for regenerative medicine and therapeutic purposes at an industrial scale. "Biology is complex, but conventional science is not," says Jan Jensen, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer and founder of Trailhead Biosystems. "We created Trailhead Biosystems to address key limitations in the scientific process, unlocking a deeper understanding of biology that will enable us to better control it."