The Belgian company Agomab Therapeutics has topped up its Series B round by $40.5 million to hit $114 million. This Pfizer-led financing round extension is just the latest sign that the emerging field of regenerative medicine is coming to the fore.
Agomab has embarked on an ambitious path to redefine how we understand regenerative medicine and tackle metabolic, inflammatory and fibrotic conditions. The Belgian firm’s recent $40.5 million investment was led by Pfizer’s biotech-focused Breakthrough Growth Initiative and adds to Agomab’s first Series B closing of $74 million, which was led by Redmile Group in March 2021.
The fresh funding is intended to advance the clinical development of Agomab’s pipeline. The firm is developing small molecules and monoclonal antibody drugs targeting growth factors — proteins that are linked to a wide range of tissue repair functions in the body.
Agomab’s lead candidate is a phase 1-stage small molecule to treat intestinal scarring in the inflammatory condition Crohn’s disease. The compound, developed in a collaboration deal with Pfizer, is designed to block ALK-5, a protein involved in growth factor signaling.
“Agomab gains highly valuable investors with this Series B extension as well as funding that will support the company’s development and future growth. Pfizer’s deep expertise in developing innovative treatments and their specific knowledge of our targets and indications add an extra layer of support,” said Tim Knotnerus, CEO of Agomab Therapeutics, in a public statement.
The company’s second small molecule candidate also blocks ALK-5, but in this case, it’s designed to be inhaled for the treatment of the condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Meanwhile, Agomab is developing two antibody drugs at the preclinical stage for the treatment of fibrosis conditions and organ failure. These drugs mimic the action of the hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) protein, a major promoter of cell growth and division. The HGF protein has potential applications in numerous conditions, but it doesn’t last long in the blood. To overcome this issue, AgomAb is using antibody technology from its compatriot company argenx that provides the drugs with both greater stability and greater ability to target specific human tissues than current approaches using the same biochemical pathways.
“The idea of regenerative medicine has been around for some time. However, achieving functional tissue recovery is a very complex undertaking,” said Knotnerus.
The deal comes as funding is exploding in the regenerative medicine niche. The global market for regenerative therapies is expected to leap from $9.8 billion in 2021 to almost $38 billion in 2030. And last year, global financing for cell and gene therapy companies in this space shattered records with a haul of over $23.1 billion.
Among other recent, notable deals in regenerative medicine, the Japanese biotech Metcela raised a Series C round worth $14 million in late June 2022 to fund the development of cell therapies for heart failure. And Astellas recently teamed up with Mogrify in the U.K. to research the regenerative potential of cell reprogramming in the treatment of sensorineural hearing loss.
“It is always great to see investments and it is important for the whole biotech and pharma scene in Europe,” said Evelina Vågesjö, co-founder and CEO of the Swedish gene therapy biotech Ilya Pharma.
This article was originally published in March 2021 and has since been updated with Agomab’s latest funding round.