TScan Moves Toward the Clinic with $100 Million Series C Round
David Southwell, chief executive officer of TScan, pictured above.
T cell company TScan Therapeutics announced it will push two cancer therapies into the clinic this year thanks to a $100 million Series C round, led by an undisclosed U.S.-based, healthcare-focused fund that added new investors BlackRock and RA Capital Management in the process.
The company has now raised over $180 million and continues to rack up partnerships around its T cell receptor (TCR)-based technology, mostly over the past 18 months.
David Southwell, chief executive officer of TScan, told BioSpace the company is poised for an initial public offering sometime in 2021.
TScan is developing off-the-shelf engineered T cell cancer therapies based on TCRs that target tumor antigens identified through genome-wide, high-throughput target identification screening. The company now expects to submit INDs and begin clinical trials for its two most advanced hematological cancer programs – TSC-100 and TSC-101 – and nominate a third, undisclosed program in the second half of this year.
Southwell said the company’s lead programs are for the hematological cancers acute myeloid leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, and T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
TSC-100, currently in IND-enabling studies, targets minor histocompatibility antigen HA-1 that is highly expressed in leukemia but much less so in normal tissue. TSC-101 targets a similar antigen, HA-2, and is preclinical studies. Lead candidate TSC-100 is being developed as a therapy for leukemia patients following hematopoietic stem cell transplant treatment, the current standard of care. As many as 40% of patients relapse following transplant, but some patients with lower relapse rates develop T cells targeting tumor antigens like HA-1 and HA-2.
TScan aims to have five programs in the clinic by the end of 2022, said Southwell.
“Recently, we have identified over 40 novel cancer targets from clinically active TCRs for development of multiplexed TCR-T cell therapies as part of our solid tumor program,” Southwell said. “Our goal is to continue to build a bank of clinically-active TCRs throughout 2021.”
BlackRock and RA Capital joined TScan’s founding investor, Longwood Fund, and existing investors 6 Dimensions Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, GV, Novartis Venture Fund and Pitango HealthTech. TScan’s previous venture rounds include a split Series B that raised $35 million in January 2020 and $45 million in July 2019.
TScan also partnered with Novartis last year to discover and develop TCR-engineered T cell therapies for up to three solid tumor targets, a deal worth $30 million up front. Under the terms of the deal, TScan will use its platform to identify novel cancer antigens – and TCRs that can target them. Novartis can then license and develop therapies.
TScan’s platform is based on the work of scientific cofounders Stephen Elledge and Tomasz Kula, who developed a systematic process to determine which peptide antigens are discovered by cytotoxic T cells, the primary human immune tool for eliminating cancer. Elledge is a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Kula is a junior fellow at Harvard University.
The company is also using the platform to seek therapeutic targets in infectious and autoimmune diseases, and last year TScan announced partnerships with Poseida Therapeutics and Qiagen to develop a T cell therapy and rapid diagnostic, respectively, for SARS-CoV-2.