Tessa, Synklino, Anagenex and Charm Hit Series A Jackpot
Singapore-based Tessa Therapeutics has secured $126 million in Series A financing to advance development of the company’s autologous CD30-CAR-T therapy (TT11) and allogeneic CD30.CAR EBVST therapy (TT11X) programs.
The startup’s lead program, TT11 is designed to harvest a patient’s own T-cells, which are then modified to target cancerous cells that express the CD30 protein, a well-validated lymphoma target. At the American Society of Hematology meeting, the company shared clinical data from the pilot stage of the ongoing Phase II Chariot trial that showed a favorable safety profile, as well as promising efficacy in patients diagnosed with relapsed or refractory CD30-positive classical Hodgkin lymphoma. The company noted a complete response rate of 57.1% and overall response rate of 71.4%. The company aims to use the finances from the Series A to advance the Chariot study.
The TT11X program is based on the company’s proprietary allogeneic CD30-CAR EBVST platform, which is designed to overcome the toxicity concerns that are common to “off the shelf” therapies, such as Graft vs. Host Disease. Tessa said this platform does so by using allogeneic Virus specific T cells augmented with CD30-CAR.
John Ng, chief technical officer and acting chief executive officer of Tessa Therapeutics, called the Series A an important inflection point for the company.
“As we look to 2022 and beyond, Tessa is poised to emerge as a true leader in the cell therapy industry given the significant potential of our autologous and allogeneic cell therapy platforms combined with the scale and sophistication of our technical operations. This financing will be instrumental to helping us achieve several key near-term milestones, including the initiation of a pivotal clinical trial of our TT11 program and advancement of our TT11X program,” Ng said in a statement.
The Series A was led by Polaris Partners. Existing investors, including Temasek, EDBI, Heliconia Capital and Heritas Capital also participated in the financing.
Tessa wasn’t the only ex-U.S. company to raise funds for a Series A round. London’s Charm Therapeutics raised $50 million to support its end-to-end 3D deep-learning technology that is used to discover and develop transformational medicines against previously hard-to-drug targets
The company’s proprietary platform, DragonFold, harnesses protein-ligand co-folding technologies in order to deliver transformational medicines targeting challenging molecular targets in cancer and other disease areas. The goal is to translate the 3D predictions into novel small molecule therapeutics that modulate challenging targets. The initial space the company will enter is oncology.
Laksh Aithani, co-founder and CEO of Charm Therapeutics, said DragonFold has the potential to “simultaneously determine the binding site and model induced fit as well as predict the pose and affinity of the ligand, thus unlocking the true potential of structure-based drug design.”
Charm’s Series A was co-led by F-Prime Capital and OrbiMed. General Catalyst, Khosla Ventures, Braavos and Axial also participated in the funding round.
In Denmark, startup Synklino raised $31.9 million in Series A financing. The funds will be used to accelerate the company’s development programs into the clinic. Synlinko’s lead asset is SYN002, which is being developed for the treatment of Cytomegalovirus (CMV), a viral concern that is particularly troubling in post-transplant patients. Synklino said its drug candidate has the “unique potential” to eliminate CMV from infected patients by targeting both lytic and latent infection.
"This financing round is a game changer for Synklino. We are now able to prepare and initiate clinical trials with SYN002 in organs and in patients concurrently, providing more paths to reach significant and value creating milestones in a shorter timeline,” Thomas Kledal, co-founder and CEO said in a statement.
The financing was led by PKA pension fund and supported by the Danish Growth Fund and Eir Ventures.
Back in the U.S., Boston-based Anagenex raised $30 million in its Series A. The company said it intends to use the financing to expand its novel data generating platform and build a robust pipeline of programs addressing historically challenging unmet medical needs in cardiovascular and oncology indications.
Anagenex said its platform has processed more than 25 targets and already identified biochemically active compounds for eight of them. Additionally, the company said its directed evolution platform has also identified small molecule compounds for a validated “undruggable” target.
The financing round was led by Catalio Capital Management. Other participants in the Series A include existing investors Lux Capital, Khosla Ventures, Obvious Ventures, Air Street Capital and Menlo Ventures.