Amunix raises $73M to take T-cell engager into humans

The Amunix team (Amunix)

Amunix Pharmaceuticals has raised $73 million in series A funding. The Omega Funds-led round sets Amunix up to move its lead T-cell engager into the clinic after years of licensing its half-life extension technology to leading drug developers for their own candidates. 

California-based Amunix began operating in 2006 and has spent most of its existence as a technology licensing company. Businesses including Biogen, Celgene and Merck turned to Amunix for technology to extend the half-lives of their medicines. The application of the technology, branded XTEN, adds hydrophilic, unstructured, biodegradable protein chains to drugs to reduce dose frequency.

Starting in 2019, Amunix began focusing its internal efforts on the application of its tools, which include a prodrug platform, to T-cell engagers and cytokines that only become active in the tumor microenvironment. The work has advanced to the point that Amunix has the evidence to support a sizable series A round.

Omega Funds led the round with a clutch of new investors including Longitude Capital, Redmile and Polaris Partners, plus existing backer Frazier Healthcare Partners. The syndicate has put up enough money for Amunix to take its lead candidate into humans while advancing earlier-stage assets.

“The investment affords us a significant financial runway to advance our novel pipeline of T cell engagers and cytokines targeting a spectrum of solid tumors. Biologic immune activators hold tremendous untapped promise to help many cancer patients achieve better outcomes,” Amunix CEO Angie You said in a statement.

Amunix’s lead candidate is AMX-818, a T-cell engager designed for use in patients with HER2+ solid tumors. You thinks the T-cell engagers can serve as an off-the-shelf way to orchestrate T-cell attacks on solid tumors, without triggering the adverse events associated with some cancer treatments.

With the $73 million joining $40 million from a recent Roche deal in Amunix’s bank account, the series A also gives the company enough money to work on earlier-stage T-cell engagers while starting up cytokine discovery. Amunix plans to relocate from Mountain View to South San Francisco later in the year, enabling it to recruit people to do the work from a larger talent pool.