New Biotech Company Emerges to Tackle Multifunctional Biotherapeutics

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A new biotechnology company has emerged with hopes of creating next-generation, antibody-based multifunctional biotherapeutics.

On Thursday, Tentarix Biotherapeutics announced that it earned $50 million in a Series A financing round, which was co-led by Versant Ventures and Samsara BioCapital.

The company, based in San Diego and Vancouver, is led by a team with decades of experience in biologics, including CEO and President Paul Grayson, who helped found Aurora Biosciences, Fate Therapeutics, Senomyx and Bird Rock Bio.

“The advent of technologies to produce high-precision biologics to engage multiple disease targets represents a major advance,” said President and CEO Paul Grayson, a Venture Partner at Versant Ventures. “This financing allows us to develop multiple programs for oncology and autoimmune disease based on the Tentarix technology platform.”

The goal of Tentarix's novel platform is to generate multifunctional biotherapeutics that can conditionally activate or inhibit specific cell populations.

If successful, the platform could potentially be used to activate cancer-killing immune cells without disturbing other immune cells that could have adverse effects. The company’s lead program is a multifunctional therapeutic with subunits that target the IL2R gamma receptor, the IL2R beta receptor and bind to cell surface proteins on a specific subset of T cells.

“It is gratifying to see the vision of multifunctional protein therapeutics shared with the Tentarix founders rapidly develop into a transformative discovery and development company,” said Srini Akkaraju, M.D., Ph.D., managing general partner at Samsara and Tentarix chairman. “We believe this powerful platform has broad potential to create differentiated, conditional biotherapeutics across multiple therapeutic areas and with a range of unique and important functionalities.”

The multifunctional biotherapeutic space has historically been a tough nut to crack. Companies who have broken into the space have been limited to engaging only two targets at a time due to the challenge of discovering molecules with desired properties.

One company that is already doing work in the challenging space is Zymeworks. Like Tentarix, Zymeworks is also developing next-generational multifunctional therapeutics. Its lead candidate, zanidatamab (ZW25), is a bispecific antibody that is currently enrolling in a clinical trial for refractory HER2-amplified biliary tract cancer, as well as some Phase II trials for various cancers.

Last week,  Zymeworks and ALX Oncology announced that their trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of zanidatamab in combination with ALX's CD47 blocker in patients with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer, HER2-low breast cancer and other non-breast HER2-expressing solid tumors.

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