Notch Soars Out of the Gate with $85 Million; Two More Follow Closely Behind

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There have been a few life sciences companies that have been attracting attention this week with strong Series A rounds.

Regenerative medicine company Notch Therapeutics led a new class of launches with an oversubscribed $85 million Series A. Notch was joined by vaccine company SpyBiotech and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered neoX Biotech. In their Series A rounds, University of Oxford spinout SpyBiotech raised $32.5 million, while Beijing-based neoX raised $30 million.

Notch Therapeutics

Vancouver-based Notch’s venture financing was led by an unnamed healthcare-focused fund, which was joined by existing investors Allogene Therapeutics, Lumira Ventures and CCRM Enterprises Holdings Ltd., which is affiliated with Center for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM).

New investors in Notch include EcoR1 Capital, an undisclosed leading global investment firm, Casdin Capital, Samsara BioCapital and Amplitude Ventures. Notch was spun out of CCRM based on the work of Juan-Carlos Zúñiga-Pflücker, a senior scientist at Sunnybrook Research Institute and Chair of the immunology department at the University of Toronto, and Peter Zandstra, now a professor at the University of British Columbia.

Notch is developing cancer immunotherapies derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and the funding will support moving its preclinical portfolio forward towards the clinic. Its lead candidate is an off-the-shelf cytotoxic T cell in preclinical proof-of-concept testing for hematologic malignancies, developed in conjunction with Allogene. The two companies are also collaborating on chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-targeted natural killer (NK) cell therapies for hematologic cancers.

SpyBiotech

SpyBiotech’s Series A round was led by Braavos Investment Advisers, which was joined by Oxford Investment Consultants, both new investors. Oxford Sciences Innovation and GV–both founding investors–participated. The round also included equity converted from a prior loan from the U.K. government’s Future Fund. In conjunction with the round, SpyBiotech added Braavos General Partner Andre Crawford-Brunt and named Lutz B. Giebel as Chairman.

The company’s lead candidate is a cytomegalovirus vaccine, currently in preclinical testing, using its protein-based technology to bind antigens to vaccine delivery vehicles. The company is ramping up manufacturing of its component virus-like particle and viral antigen for clinical trials on track for 2022. The company has a second vaccine program for an undisclosed viral pathogen and is also developing vaccines for cancer and chronic diseases.

neoX Biotech

neoX Biotech’s Series A round was co-led by Sky9 Capital and 5Y Capital, who were joined by new investors BAI Capital and Vertex Ventures and existing investors Vision Plus Capital and Sequoia Capital China. The company uses AI to study protein-protein interactions to develop bispecific protein degraders, as well as multispecific antibodies, nanobodies, and neoantigen-T cell receptors, for “undruggable” targets. The company has not disclosed a lead candidate, disease areas of interest or clinical timelines.

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