Immatics has raised $58 million (€49 million) to push its cancer immunotherapies deeper into the clinic. The German T-cell specialist turned to its existing investors and new partner Amgen to put together the round, which brings its amount raised to date up toward €200 million.
All of Immatics’ existing investors—a list that includes dievini Hopp Biotech Holding and Wellington Partners—returned for the series E. Immatics also secured support from new, as-yet-unidentified life science investors and Amgen, the big biotech it teamed with to develop bispecific cancer immunotherapies in January.
The programs in the Amgen pact have yet to advance far past the discovery stage. But Immatics has two other assets that have entered the clinic over the past year or so and, as such, are starting to require deeper pockets to advance.
Immatics has earmarked some of the series E cash for a string of clinical trials of these lead drugs, IMA101 and IMA201, and studies of other assets based on its T-cell engineering platform. Both the lead drugs grew out of Immatics’ collaboration with MD Anderson Cancer Center.
IMA101, the first of the two to make it to the clinic, is created using the ACTolog approach. This entails taking T cells from a patient, processing them to recognize tumor-associated antigens and reinfusing them back into the patient. Immatics is currently testing IMA101 is a solid tumor trial.
Immatics’ follow-up candidate, IMA201, recently joined IMA101 in the clinic. IMA201 is based on a different platform, ACTengine. This approach entails engineering a patient’s own T cells to express certain T-cell receptors. Immatics hopes this will redirect and activate the T cells so they hunt and attack solid tumors when readministered back into the patient.
The series E will take Immatics through a critical period in the early development of the assets.
“During the period covered by this financing we expect to receive initial patient data from the current Immatics’ IMA101 and IMA201 adoptive cell therapy clinical trials, as well as commencing trials of further ACTengine candidates,” Immatics chairman Peter Chambré said in a statement.
The trials mark the start of Immatics’ second crack at the clinic. The German biotech moved an earlier set of assets, most notably IMA901, into human testing about 10 years ago, but those drugs fell by the wayside. IMA901 bowed out after missing the mark in a phase 3 trial that assessed the effect of giving it to metastatic renal cell carcinoma patients in combination with Pfizer’s Sutent.
Having come through the early 2000s when interest in immuno-oncology was relatively weak and been part of the rise and fall of excitement about cancer vaccines, Immatics is now trying to carve out a position in a new, fiercely competitive era.