Amsterdam-based Neogene Therapeutics raises $110M Series A funding to treat cancer patients with personalized neo-antigen T cell therapies
Neogene Therapeutics, an Amsterdam-based biotech startup today announced it has raised $110 million in a Series A financing to develop a new class of fully personalized neo-antigen T cell therapies to treat cancer. The round was co-led by EcoR1 Capital, Jeito Capital, and Syncona, with participation from Polaris Partners and Pontifax. Seed investors Vida Ventures, TPG, and Two River also participated in the round.
With this Series A financing, Neogene expands its distinguished investor base with leading health-care investors from both the U.S. and Europe. For the seed-investors Vida Ventures, TPG, and Two River, Neogene marks the second major collaboration in the cell therapy space after the launch of Allogene Therapeutics in 2018. Neogene’s seed-financing in 2019 enabled the Company to achieve proof-of-concept for its neo-antigen technology platform and built on the respective expertise of Vida Ventures, Two River, and TPG in the gene and cell therapy space.
Neogene is a pre-clinical stage biotechnology company and spinoff of Two River company. The startup was founded in 2018 by a team of world-class cell therapy experts to advance the development of neo-antigen T cell therapies. CEO Carsten Linnemann, Ph.D., and Ton Schumacher, Ph.D., Principal Investigator at the Netherlands Cancer Institute co-founded the Company with individual investments by cell therapy industry veterans Arie Belldegrun, M.D.
Neogene’s platform allows for the isolation of neo-antigen specific TCR genes from tumor biopsies that are routinely obtained from cancer patients during treatment. The tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) obtained by these tumor biopsies frequently express TCRs specific for mutated proteins found in cancer cells (neo-antigens). The Company’s proprietary technology uses state-of-the-art DNA sequencing, DNA synthesis, and genetic screening tools to identify such neo-antigen specific T cell receptor genes within tumor biopsies with high sensitivity, specificity, and at scale. The isolated TCR genes are subsequently engineered into T cells of cancer patients to provide large numbers of potent T cells for therapy.
“Neogene is committed to forging a path for new fully personalized engineered T cell therapies in solid cancer that are redirected towards neo-antigens found on cancer cells,” said Dr. Linnemann. “While engineered T cell therapies have transformed the treatment paradigm for patients with hematologic malignancies, the industry has struggled to translate this success to the enormous unmet need in patients with advanced solid tumors. We believe that through a fully individualized approach using patient-specific TCRs to target neo-antigens, engineered T cell therapy can become broadly accessible to these patients. We are excited that our vision is shared by an outstanding syndicate of marquee investors, who have a deep understanding of and commitment towards the development of novel cell therapies in oncology.”
“Neo-antigens represent ideal targets for cancer therapy, as they inevitably arise from DNA mutations that enable tumor development in the first place. Further supporting this concept is clear, correlative evidence linking T cell reactivity against neo-antigens with tumor regression in several patients,” said Dr. Schumacher. “The Neogene platform makes it possible to exploit the neo-antigen reactive TCRs that are present in TIL without a requirement for viable tumor material. In addition, its syn-bio based approach offers major advantages with respect to standardization and scalability and will be critical to achieving our goal of bringing personalized engineered T cell therapies to patients.”
“We believe that Neogene’s technology and therapeutic approach has the potential to become a game-changer for the treatment of cancer,” said Oleg Nodelman, Founder and Managing Director of EcoR1 Capital. “We are impressed by the bold vision of the management team and are thrilled to support Neogene as it advances its mission of developing novel therapies for cancer patients in need.”