AMAL Therapeutics raises €8m
Swiss cancer vaccine developer AMAL Therapeutics has raised €8m in a Series B round led by existing investor Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, and new investors BioMedPartners and Helsinn Investment Fund.
The company, incorporated in 2012, said the proceeds are sufficient for clinical development of lead candidate ATP128 for colorectal cancer through to clinical proof-of-concept (Phase IIb). Furthermore, Amal (which means „hope“ in arab) announced it will refine its proprietary therapeutic tumour vaccination technology platform KISIMA.
Along with the lead investors, Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF), BioMedPartners and Helsinn Investment Fund, also two of the three lead investors of Amal’s CHF3m Series A financing, VI Partners and High-Tech Gründerfonds (the third was BIVF), as well as Schroder Adveq participated in the financing round.
Amal Therapeutic’s CEO Dr. Madiha Derouazi told European Biotechnology in an interview that the company’s recombinant protein vaccine induced formation of multiepitopic T killer and T helper cells in animal models along with the establishment of memory immunity after four vaccinations. The company’s vaccine candidates consist of a fusion protein containing a cell-penetrating peptide that boosts MHC 1-mediated T killer cell responses fused to a multiantigenic chimeric cargo, which triggers MHC II-mediated T helper cell responses plus an Toll-like receptor 4 agonist acting as an adjuvant. In contrast to existing cancer vaccines, the cell-penetrating peptide promotes efficient epitope cross-presentation to cytotoxic T cells, the main weakness of previous protein vaccines that failed clinically due to lack of efficacy. Cancer vaccines have currently had a renaissance as combination partners to cancer immunotherapeutics such as checkpoint modulators.
Besides undisclosed cancer vaccines, the company has also a vaccine programme for glioblastoma multiforme in its pipeline but in 2016 priorised development of the colorectal cancer programme.