Biotech startup Primmune Therapeutics nabs $7M seed funding to harness the power of immune system for the treatment of cancer and viral diseases
Recent advances in cancer immunotherapy have resulted in medications that have profound benefit to some patients. Unfortunately, most cancer victims are relatively unresponsive to single agents such as PD-(L)1 checkpoint inhibitors. Literally hundreds of clinical studies are currently being conducted to identify therapeutic combinations that improve the response rate.
The vast majority of these immunotherapy combinations affect the adaptive immune system; this represents one arm of the immune system. Enter Primmune Therapeutics, a San Diego-based biotech startup that is focused on the second arm, the innate immune system. It is well-recognized that one of the next big breakthroughs in cancer immunotherapy is likely to involve combinations of agents that activate both innate and adaptive immunity.
Today, Primmune Therapeutics announced it has secured $7 million in seed financing to support the development of novel orally-administered, small molecule toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) agonists for long-term systemic activation of innate immunity. The seed financing investment was backed CAM Capital, Charlie McDermott, BioBrit, and BioRock Ventures.
In conjunction with the financing, Scott Morenstein, Managing Director at CAM Capital will join the board. Ezra Cohen, M.D., Chief, Division of Hematology-Oncology and Associate Director, Translational Science, Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego and Isan Chen, M.D., Chief Medical and Development Officer at Mirati Therapeutics will join the company’s clinical advisory board.
Founded in 2017 by James Appleman and Paulo Rangel, Primmune Therapeutics is developing small molecule, orally-administered toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) agonists to attack tumors and potentiate adaptive cancer immunotherapies, such as checkpoint inhibitors, to improve overall response rates and treatment durability.
“The recent advances in cancer immunotherapy have resulted in medicines that have had profound benefit for cancer patients; yet, a majority of those patients do not respond or relapse. There is a strong rationale for combining agents that activate systemic innate immunity, like a TLR7 agonist, with drugs that engage systemic adaptive immunity, like checkpoint inhibitors, to potentially address patients who have an inadequate response to approved treatments,” said Charlie McDermott, Chief Executive Officer of Primmune Therapeutics. “We are pleased to have secured financial support from our investors and local biotech executives who are committed to supporting the advancement of our small molecule TLR7 agonists into human studies in oncology and virology.”