Ambrx raises $45M to back bioconjugates in the clinic

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Ambrx has been around since it was founded in 2003. Now, the San Diego, CA-based startup has raised a latest financing of $45 million to support Phase I testing of its lead candidate, ARX788 to treat HER2-positive breast cancer.

Last year, a handful of Chinese biopharmas and investors stepped in to buy Ambrx with an eye toward making it a prominent collaborator for companies in that country. They included Fosun Pharma, CRO WuXi and investors China Everbright and HOPU Investments. Ambrx had tried to go public in 2014, but withdrew the IPO instead.

The latest cash infusion will go to advance ARX788 in the clinic, as well as to get other Ambrx antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) into clinical trials--including its lead immuno-oncology program CD3-Folate.

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"The new investors along with our existing investors brought together a perfect combination of strategic pharmaceutical investments as well as top tier private financial investments. This clearly shows the confidence from the investors in the Ambrx technology platform for its broad impact and great potential in biological drug development," said Ambrx CEO Alex Qiao in a statement.

He added, "The new funding resources will allow us to accelerate the development of our programs, and to make improvements to our technology platform."

The latest financing was led by seed stage investor Apricot Capital and Northeast Securities Prosperity Healthcare Fund. Sinopharm Capital, Humanwell Healthcare Fund also participated alongside existing investors Fosun Pharma, HOPU Investments and Everbright participated in the financing.

Ambrx uses its ReCode bacterial technology to create long-acting therapeutic peptides and proteins as well as modified antibody and bispecific fragments. It uses its EuCode tech to create larger and more complex proteins where the function depends on post-translation modification.

Over the years, Ambrx has racked up more than $200 million in milestone payments from its partners who include Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), Merck ($MRK), Astellas, Eli Lilly ($LLY) and Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical.

- here is the release

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