Money on the Move: February 17-23
Life sciences companies across the globe are raking in investment dollars to advance drug programs. Here's a brief overview of some seen the past week.
China’s biotech market continues to boom. This week Clover Biopharmaceuticals completed a whopping $230 million Series C, bringing the company’s total raise to over $400 million in the last 12 months. The fusion protein company will use the funds to push its COVID-19 vaccine into Phase II/III testing and production planning. Extra cash will back the development of a next-gen vaccine program against SAR-CoV-2 variants, and several other recombinant trimeric fusion protein-based vaccines and cancer therapeutics targeting previously undruggable pathways.
Massachusetts-based ABclonal scored $92.9 million in a Series C led by Sequoia Capital China and LYFE Capital. The parent company will funnel the funds into ABclona Technology to accelerate R&D for in vitro diagnostic raw materials and to rapidly expand production capabilities of its reagent products. "Reagent quality determines the effectiveness of downstream therapeutic and diagnostic applications. Similarly, innovations in reagents and raw materials provide the foundation for technological breakthroughs in the life science industry. The new funding allows us to continue to expand and innovate biology reagent products at a faster pace,” said Zack Wu, CEO of ABclonal.
An exosome therapeutics, Evox raised over $95 million in an oversubscribed Series C. Proceeds will go into the advancement of Evox’s pipeline. Several rare disease assets are expected to advance into the clinic while the company continues to develop its DeliverEX exosome drug platform. In November, Evox announced a collaboration with a department in the University of Oxford to develop exosome therapeutics for the treatment of rare diseases.
With headquarters in Shanghai, Boston and San Diego, Regor is positioned for international results. With a core strength in CARD (Computer Accelerated Rational Discovery), the biotech is moving programs from an idea to the clinic in two years. A $90 million Series B should help move them along. Specifics of the intended use for the funds was not disclosed other than the CEO’s declaration of, “We are now in a strong position to advance pre-clinical and clinical studies of multiple programs.”
A private biotech developing immunotherapies, Elicio completed its Series B round for a total raise of $73 million. The Cambridge-based company will use the funds to advance their lead asset into a Phase I/II clinical trial. ELI-002 is a mKRAS therapeutic cancer vaccine. MKRAS driven cancers are estimated to make up 25% of all human solid tumors. The company’s immune-stimulating adjuvant and peptides target a wide variety of KRAS mutations that are responsible for up to 97% of all KRAS-driven cancers. Clinical trials are expected to commence early this year.
With just a one-time gene edit, Excision hopes to excise viral genomes permanently through CRISPR anti-viral therapies. Having proven the ability to eliminate an HIV-like virus from the genomes of primates, Excision is now ready to enter the clinic with lead candidate EBT-101 in patients with chronic HIV infection. Proceeds from the companies $60 million financing round should do the trick. Leftovers will support preclinical programs targeting JC Virus for PML, Herpes Simplex Virus and Hepatitis B.
AnchorDx Medical Co.
Attracting big-name investors like Wuxi AppTec, AnchorDx scooped up $40 million in a Series C financing round. The biotech focuses on early cancer detection and disease monitoring tests using next-generation sequencing technology. Last July AnchorDx announced a collaboration with the Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson and Johnson to conduct a lung cancer study. The new funds will be funneled into accelerating the commercialization of its NGS-based products for early detection and screening of single-cancer, multi-cancer and pan-cancer.
Hangzhou Sciwind Biosciences
Another financing round led by LYFE Capital, Sciwind took in $37 million in a Series B round. Focused on biologics for chronic metabolic and immunological diseases, the funds will be used to propel multiple clinical trials currently underway. XW003 is ready for Phase II trials in China for type II diabetes, obesity and NASH patients this year. Another two IND applications will be filed this year, one of which is an oral formulation of a highly active GLP-1 analogue to help regulate insulin production. Sciwind will also use the extra funds to add new talent to the team.
With money-backed attention from pharma-giant Pfizer, Belgium-based Imcyse raked in a $25.8 million Series B. Pfizer participated as the newest investor, taking an equity stake in the company as part of the license agreement for Imcyse’s rheumatoid arthritis program based on the Imotope program. Funds will be used to accelerate the advancement of several first-in-class targeted disease-modifying immunotherapies to develop a robust and diverse clinical pipeline. The company’s lead Imotope candidate is now in Phase II for Type I Diabetes, with four other programs targeting MS, Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorders, Celiac Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Launched in 2019 with $3.6 million, AmacaThera now scored $10.3 million in a Series A for development of its lead asset. Focused on nonopioid pain therapies for post-op patients, AMT-143 is a single injection intended for administration at the time of surgery to ideally prevent the need for opioid based pain relief. The opioid crisis has been on a dramatic rise the past ten years, with drug-involved deaths higher for synthetic opioids than any other drug category, including illegal drugs. Investor MIchelle Scarborough said, “AmacaThera has the potential to disrupt the way we treat post-operative pain, a key to fighting the ongoing opioid epidemic.” The company’s hydrogels enable sustained release of drugs by protecting biomolecules from degradation and clearance. AmacaThera’s platform has a wide range of potential for any drug that requires longer duration of action. The funding should accelerate AMT-143 clinical trials and expand the company’s pipeline.
BARDA continues to funnel funds into companies developing not only treatments and vaccines but also more advanced, rapid SARS-CoV-2 tests. LightDeck landed $5.65 million from the government agency for its rapid antigen test. The big advantage with LightDeck’s COVID-19 antigen test is portability and lab-quality results in five minutes with higher sensitivity than assays available today. Another huge plus – the test requires little to no training to operate. Manufacturing is cost-effective so the tests should be affordable, in addition to fast and accurate. Going beyond a simple positive or negative, the test will be able to indicate where patients are in the course of the disease.