Tessa Therapeutics takes in $126M for cell therapies, and more biotech financings

The financial markets continue to be tough for companies looking to raise money, but several biotechs were able to find investors willing to back their research. Cell therapy research and cancer drugs figured prominently in the financings announced in the past week. Here’s a look back at biotech financing activity from the past week.

—Cell therapy developer Tessa Therapeutics unveiled a $126M Series A round of funding to finance ongoing clinical development of two different types of cancer treatments. TT11 is the Singapore-based company’s autologous cell therapy, which is made from a patient’s own T cells. That cell therapy candidate targets the cancer protein CD30 and is being readied to begin a pivotal Phase 2 test later this year. TT11X is Tessa’s allogeneic cell therapy, which is made from the immune cells of healthy donors. That experimental therapy also targets CD30 and is currently in Phase 1 testing. Polaris Partners led Tessa’s new round of financing.

—Charm Therapeutics launched with a $50 million to back its artificial intelligence-based approach to drug discovery. The London-based company’s technology, called DragonFold AI, predicts three-dimensional structures of proteins to gain insights into difficult to address targets in cancer and other therapeutic areas. Charm calls this approach 3D deep learning. F-Prime Capital and OrbiMed co-led the Series A round of financing, which included participation from General Catalyst, Khosla Ventures, Braavos, and Axial.

—Code Biotherapeutics is bypassing viral delivery of genetic medicines, and it raised $75 million to advance the development of its synthetic DNA approach. Hatfield, Pennsylvania-based Code Bio says its approach can overcome several of the limitations of therapies delivered via engineered viruses. The Series A round of financing, led by Northpond Ventures, will be applied toward the preclinical research that could support investigational new drug applications for lead programs in Duchenne muscular dystrophy and type 1 diabetes.

—Hypertension-focused Mineralys Therapeutics closed a $118 million Series B round of financing led by RA Capital Management and Andera Partners. The Philadelphia-based biotech will use the capital to continue clinical development of MLS-101, a drug designed to block aldosterone synthase, reducing levels of that enzyme without affecting other hormones like cortisol. The company believes this selectivity can make MLS-101 a targeted treatment for blood pressure in hypertension patients who have elevated aldosterone production, an underlying cause of hypertension in about 25% of patients who have the condition. The molecule, licensed from Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, is currently in Phase 2 testing and is expected to post preliminary data later this year.

—Synklino, a biotech company developing treatments for chronic viral infections, closed a €29.8 million (about $31.9 million) Series A funding round. The Copenhagen, Denmark-based company’ lead drug candidate, SYN002, is an experimental treatment for cytomegalovirus, which can lead to infection and complications in transplant patients. PKA pension fund led the Synklino financing; The Danish Growth Fund and Eir Ventures also participated.

—Radiopharmaceuticals company Ariceum Therapeutics launched with the backing of a €25 million (about $26.3 million) Series A round of funding. The Berlin-based company will use the capital to advance development of its lead radiopharmaceutical candidate, satoreotide, as a treatment for neuroendocrine cancers and certain other aggressive and difficult-to-treat cancers. The radiopharmaceutical is designed to block somatostatin type 2, a receptor that is overexpressed in many cancers that include small cell lung cancer; high-grade neuroendocrine tumors; and neuroblastoma, a rare but aggressive cancer that occurs mainly in young children. The drug candidate was acquired from Ipsen last year.

—Pinetree Therapeutics, a preclinical biotech developing treatments for cancer and viral diseases, closed a $23.5 million Series A1 round of funding. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company’s technology, called Tumor Associated Essential Receptor Targeting Antibody, or TAER-TAB, produces antibodies. Pinetree’s lead drug candidate is a bispecific antibody designed to treat non-small cell lung cancer by degrading EGFR, a protein involved in the cell signaling that drives cancer growth.

—Degron Therapeutics is going after “undruggable” disease targets and it now has $22 million in funding to support its research. The biotech’s platform technology, called GlueXplorer, develops so-called molecular glues that can be used in a type of therapy called targeted protein degradation. The preclinical-stage company aims to develop drugs for cancer, inflammation, and metabolic disease, and rare disease among other therapeutic areas. Three programs have reached lead optimization; one of them addresses a target with applications in a range of cancers and immune diseases. Med-Fine Capital led the Series A round of funding for Degron, which splits its operations between San Diego and Shanghai.

—Coya Therapeutics, a cell therapy developer has raised $10.3 million to continue development of several programs, including its most advanced one, a potential treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. That program, COYA 101, is an autologous cell therapy made from a type of immune cell called a regulatory T cell (Treg). Houston-based Coya plans to advance that therapeutic candidate into Phase 2b testing. The pipeline includes allogeneic cell therapies for frontal temporal dementia and autoimmune and metabolic disorders, which the company plans to advance into Phase 1 clinical testing.

—AI-based firm Anagenex unveiled $30 million in financing to apply its technology toward the development novel small molecules capable of hitting so-called undrugable targets. The preclinical-stage biotech’s most advanced drug candidates are being developed for cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Catalio Capital Management led Anagenex’s Series A round of funding.

Photo: Devrimb, Getty Images

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