Mnemo Breaks French Series A Record, Targets Greater Tumor Specificity
Built on the technological innovation of prominent scientific founders from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Institut Curie, Mnemo Therapeutics this morning announced a record-breaking series A.
The Paris-based biotech will use the funds to create targeted immuno-oncology treatments for a broader range of patients with its next-generation CAR-T and epigenetics platform.
Dr. François Gaudet. Mnemo Chief Executive Officer Alain Maiore.
The €75 million ($90 million) financing, which set a record in France, was led by Casdin Capital, original seed investor Sofinnova Partners and an investor who has elected to remain nameless. The syndicate also includes participation from Redmile, Emerson Collective and Alexandria Venture Investments.
The integrated suite of technologies comprising Mnemo’s platform stems from the pioneering work of Dr. Sebastian Amigorena, director of the “Center of Immunotherapy for Cancers” at Institut Curie, and Dr. Michel Sadelain at Sloan Kettering Institute.
“Cell therapy is a fast-moving field and the next generation of therapies requires smarter, stronger T cells with superior sensitivity for tumor-specific antigens,” said Casdin Chief Investment Officer and Founder Eli Casdin. “We believe Mnemo has both and have been incredibly impressed with the scientific and technological capability at the company. We look forward to supporting the team as they significantly advance the field of CAR T and bend the mortality curve on hard-to-treat cancers.”
Mnemo’s EnfiniT platform, which identifies a new class of antigens with greater tumor specificity, intends to answer this call.
“Contrary to some of the neoantigen approaches or very personalized medicine approaches, we are really looking at a larger subgroup of the population in terms of targeting, using these new antigens,” said Mnemo Chief Executive Officer Alain Maiore.
Preliminary proof-of-concept data with the E-antigen platform in the large indications studied by Mnemo indicates that the platform will allow the company to reach a “substantial” number of patients.
This broad range of technologies is collectively aimed at significantly improving persistence, sensitivity and T-cell memory. Together, they have the potential to enable therapeutic options that can deliver deeper clinical responses for patients with both solid and blood-based cancers.
Fittingly, Mnemo derives its name from the ancient Greek word for memory, ‘mnēmē’.
“Altogether, to be honest, each could be a separate company. We can mix and match them and make them perform even more powerfully as a whole,” said Mnemo Chief Scientific Officer Dr. François Gaudet of the technologies.
In a scenario familiar to many biotech start-ups, the rollout of Mnemo’s operations was delayed by COVID-19. This was a test and testament to the team’s commitment.
“We were slower than expected in becoming operational on our own, so we had to rely a lot on Sebastian’s lab and Michel's lab to run the key experiments, and I must say that the two guys really played ball with us. They were really stellar in their commitment,” Maiore shared.
Mnemo, which is planning sites at the Alexandria Center® for Life Science in New York and an additional site in New Jersey but is adamant that its headquarters will remain in Paris, takes pride in being a transatlantic company.
Maiore gives credit to both Sofinnova and Casdin Capital for both understanding the company’s vision and helping to support building this type of company from the ground up.
“For that to really shape up, you really need investors that are not only experienced but believe in what you are doing. I think that's certainly something that Sofinnova did for us at the seed stage. And when we were raising the Series A, Eli Casdin really played a critical role in understanding the vision of what we're doing and bringing that U.S. mindset, which has really enabled us to accelerate the growth of the company,” he said.
So, what does Mnemo plan to do next with this $90 million infusion?
“We are very focused on hiring the best people and getting them to work as one team, particularly in this transatlantic setting,” Maiore said. “We are expanding our pipeline, both in terms of discovery and preclinical development, so we're rolling in a number of projects. We want to further validate our technology platform in the CAR engineering space with the idea of taking the product into the clinic by the end of 2023.”
Mnemo’s next goal is to have its first two antigen programs in the clinic by the end of 2024.