Bayer, Novartis-backed Immunitas secures US$58 million to advance Immuno-Oncology treatment

UK – Immunitas Therapeutics, a Waltham-based immuno-oncology startup, has closed a $58 million Series B financing round to continue developing its single-cell genomics-based therapies.

The funding will be used to advance the startup’s lead program, IMT-009, into clinical trials for the treatment of solid tumors and hematological malignancies.

The immuno-oncology startup also counts on funding and support from important companies in the pharmaceutical sector such as Bayer and Novartis, which has allowed it to advance its research and clinical trials. So far, Immunitas Therapeutics has raised US$97 million in funding since being founded back in 2019.

Immunitas is attempting to tackle the hurdles traditionally associated with checkpoint inhibitors, which don’t work for everyone and typically require combination regimens with investigational drugs to boost their clinical potential. The biotech is now one step closer to moving its programs into the clinic.

The company emerged on the scene in 2019 with funding from Big Pharmas like Bayer and Novartis, through their venture outfits, along with other investment firms.

The lead asset from the company’s single-cell sequencing platform, IMT-009, is for solid tumor and hematological cancers. The therapy has shown enhanced tumor killing and increased survival in preclinical systems, the company said.

A regulatory filing to begin clinical studies is slated for the first half of next year, said CEO Jeffrey Goldberg in an interview.

Immunitas has also produced a second program using the platform, called IMT-073, which targets NK and T-cells just like the first asset and also uses the same cell type. But IMT-073 differs in biology, target and mechanism, according to Goldberg.

The Boston-area therapeutics outfit is looking to hire top-notch scientific talent as it moves toward human trials. With new funding led by Agent Capital, Immunitas is on the hunt for a chief scientific officer and has begun recruiting for a chief medical officer, Goldberg said.

This happens at a time when the immuno-oncology drugs market is expected to decline from US$59.64 billion in 2019 to US$57.34 billion in 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of -3.86%.

The decline is mainly due to the COVID-19 outbreak that has led to restrictive containment measures involving social distancing, remote working, and the closure of industries and other commercial activities resulting in operational challenges.

The entire supply chain has been disrupted, impacting the market negatively. The market is then expected to recover and reach US$80.11 billion in 2023 at a CAGR of 11.79%. this is according to data published by research and markets.

Companies in the immuno-oncology drugs market are increasing their product innovation through strategic collaborations.

In December 2019, Sanofi, a Paris-based biopharmaceutical company, acquired Synthorx, Inc. for US$2.5 billion.

This acquisition is expected to allow Sanofi to gain access to Synthorx’s immuno-oncology drug candidate IL-2 therapeutics for solid tumors along with its expanded genetic alphabet platform.

This builds a portfolio of high-quality assets for Sanofi to lead with innovation in the oncology market.

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