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GSK, Roche and Novo back $86 million immuno-oncology startup

Published on 17/08/16 at 09:20am

Brisbane-based venture-stage biopharmaceutical company Tioma Therapeutics has announced it has raised $86 million in Series A venture financing for its development of anti-CD47 antibodies, including advanced proof-of-concept human trials for its lead drug candidate, an anti-CD47 immune checkpoint inhibitor.

CD47 is a protein which has been found to play a key role in immune and angiogenic responses. Anti-CD47 antibody treatment enables macrophage phagocytosis of cancer and can also foster the activation of cancer-specific lymphocytes, initiating an antitumor T-cell immune response.

The startup has been backed by a number of big players in the industry: the company’s financing was co-led by RiverVest Venture Partners and venture divisions of major pharma firms Novo Nordisk, Roche and GSK.

"We find CD47 to be an extremely interesting target in the evolving cancer immunotherapy landscape," said Peter Moldt, partner at Novo Ventures. "We believe Tioma Therapeutics, with its portfolio of diverse, functionally heterogeneous antibodies, is well positioned to test the CD47 hypothesis in the clinic." 

John Donovan, a co-founder of Alios, an acquisition by Johnson & Johnson, has become the company’s new president, CEO and member of the board of directors.

"We're pleased by the degree of investor interest in this financing and thrilled to have enabled the advancement of our therapeutic antibodies well into clinical development," stated Donovan. "We're particularly excited by the prospect of using these compounds in combination with other therapeutic agents, such as PD-L1/PD-1 inhibitors. We believe we have the ability to meaningfully improve outcomes for patients suffering from a variety of debilitating cancers."

Matt Fellows

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