The Swiss biotech ImmunOs Therapeutics has raised a Series A round of €13.7M (CHF 15M) that will fund the first human trials of its cancer immunotherapy that could improve the response of cancer patients to checkpoint inhibitors.
The round was co-led by the Swiss life sciences venture capital firm BioMedPartners and by Pfizer Ventures. The money will fund the first human trials of ImmunOs Therapeutics’ lead candidate immunotherapy in a variety of solid and liquid tumors. ImmunOs will also fund the preclinical development of other immunotherapy candidates for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases.
Over the past five years, checkpoint inhibitor drugs have changed the way cancer is treated. By harnessing the patient’s immune system to fight tumors, this form of immunotherapy has had unprecedented results in some cancer patients. However, these therapies are only effective in a small percentage of patients.
ImmunOs is developing a protein drug that could boost the effectiveness of checkpoint inhibitors. The immunotherapy does this by activating the innate immune system, the first line of defense against infections and cancerous cells. Recruiting the innate immune system could stop tumors from suppressing the rest of the immune system as well as normal, letting other immunotherapies like checkpoint inhibitors have a stronger effect.
ImmunOs’ lead drug is designed to activate two types of innate immune proteins, called leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptors and killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors. This could allow synergistic benefits between the two target proteins that common antibody immunotherapies, which target only one molecule, can’t normally produce.
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