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Immatics raises $58m

Cancer immunotherapy specialist Immatics Biotechnologies GmbH (Tuebingen, Germany) raised US$58m in a Series E financing round led by German investors dievini Hopp BioTech Holding and AT Impf as well as Wellington Partners and new investor Amgen.

The company said that it will use the proceeds to progress its pipeline of adoptive cell therapies in a series of clinical trials including the candidates IMA101 and IMA201, based on transducing a patient’s own T-cells to express a tumor-specific exogenous T-cell receptor (TCR) and redirecting activated T-cells to the tumor sites. Furthermore, immatics will invest into the development of its pipeline of bispecific TCR candidates, with the aim to redirect and activate the T-cell response towards cancer cells expressing specific tumor targets. Both approaches will be triggered by identification of new targets (=neoantigens) with Immatics’ XPRESIDENT platform.

Amgen partnered with immatics in January  in a potential US$1bn deal to combine its Micromet-unit’s BITE technology with Immatics capabilities to find cancer-specific protein targets. Under the partnership, Immatics is responsible for target protein identification using its XPRESIDENT technology, Amgen leads clinical development, manufacturing and commercialisation.

Amgen’s approach has been copied by Roche, who hired staff from Micromet after Amgen had taken over the Munich based inventor of bispecific T cell engager (BITE) technology. Roche’s Chugai-unit in Japan is in Phase I testing of ERY974, a bispecific engager consisting of a CD3 T-cell binding site and an antibody targeting the GPC3 cancer protein.

Roche, a former partner of immatics, terminated a co-development partnership around Immatics’ gastric cancer peptide vaccine IMA942 (RG7930) and further candidates to use them in combination with checkpoint inhibitors in mid-2015 because of „strategic portfolio considerations“. Subsequently, Immatics refocused its business from cancer vaccines to cancer immuno-therapies. IMA201 is currently in Phase I safety testing.

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