NEWTON, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Abcuro, Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing therapies for autoimmune diseases and cancer through precise modulation of cytotoxic T and NK cells, today announced the closing of a $42 million Series A-1 financing and the appointment of John B. Edwards as the Executive Chair of the Board of Directors and David de Graaf, Ph.D. as Chief Executive Officer. The financing was co-led by Mass General Brigham Ventures and Sanofi Ventures, and included investors Pontifax Venture Capital, Hongsen Investment Group, RA Capital Management and Samsara BioCapital, as well as others.
“Over the past year, Abcuro has developed a compelling data package to support this round of financing to advance our lead program into the clinic”
Concurrent with this financing, Jason Hafler, Ph.D. from Sanofi Ventures, Iyona Rajkomar from Pontifax Venture Capital, Ryan Berry, Ph.D. from RA Capital Management and Donald McCarthy, Ph.D. from Samsara BioCapital have joined the Abcuro Board of Directors which also includes Julius Knowles from Mass General Brigham Ventures and Yajun Xu, Ph.D., President of Hongsen Investment Group.
“Over the past year, Abcuro has developed a compelling data package to support this round of financing to advance our lead program into the clinic,” said Mr. Edwards, Executive Chair. “We have been encouraged with the level of venture and pharma interest in Abcuro’s pioneering work directed at precision targeting of cytotoxic T and NK cells. We are particularly excited to welcome David as CEO as we enter this pivotal period of growth for Abcuro.”
Proceeds from this financing will be used to advance ABC008, an anti-KLRG1 antibody designed to deplete cytotoxic T cells that attack healthy tissue in a variety of autoimmune diseases. A first-in-human proof of mechanism and safety trial will be conducted in patients with sporadic inclusion body myositis (IBM) while additional indications are under investigation. IBM is a chronic and debilitating inflammatory skeletal muscle condition with no available pharmaceutical therapies. The Series A-1 proceeds will also support ongoing preclinical development of the company’s oncology program ABC015, an anti-KLRG1 blocking antibody capable of restoring effector cytotoxic T and NK cell function, resulting in a potent anti-tumor response. This includes financial and scientific support by the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation to assess ABC015 in multiple myeloma.
“KLRG1 is a compelling target in immune modulation in both autoimmune diseases and cancer as it allows us to precisely target clinically relevant cytotoxic T and NK cells,” said Dr. de Graaf. “I’m very pleased by the shared excitement of Abcuro’s investors in pursuing the clinical potential of targeting KLRG1.”
Mr. Edwards brings more than thirty years of experience in discovery, development and global commercialization of biopharmaceuticals to Abcuro. He was involved in the development or commercialization of ten FDA approved biologics and has had successful exits at eight of the ten biotech companies he helped to build, including Tilos, Siamab, Exonics, Adnexus, F-star and Genetics Institute. He built a hematology therapeutic business that eventually reached over $1B in annual revenue for Wyeth/Genetics Institute and was responsible for leading the development of the fastest biologic to progress from phase I to FDA approval.
Dr. de Graaf is a pioneer in the biotech industry with an impressive record of advancing programs into the clinic. Most recently, he was the CEO of Comet Therapeutics. Prior to Comet, he was CEO of Syntimmune, a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on advancing novel treatments for IgG-mediated autoimmune diseases. His experience includes leadership roles at Apple Tree Partners, Selventa, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Pfizer and AstraZeneca. He holds a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Abcuro is a clinical stage biotechnology company developing first-in-class immunotherapies for autoimmune diseases and cancer through precise modulation of T and NK cells that express KLRG1 (killer cell lectin like receptor G1). In certain autoimmune diseases, KLRG1-expressing T cells are the source of chronic tissue damage. In oncology, tumor cells that express E- or N- cadherin inhibit anti-tumor activity of T and NK cells via their KLRG1 receptor, therefore acting as an immune checkpoint inhibitory receptor. KLRG1 was identified as a compelling target with relevance to disease biology through Abcuro’s powerful use of patient clinical data and patient tissue transcriptome analyses derived from discrete, pathological immune cell subpopulations. For more information, visit www.abcuro.com.
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