Amunix scores $117M to fuel T-cell engagers, cytokines for solid tumors

Exactly one year after Amunix Pharmaceuticals raised $73 million, the tech-licensing company turned cancer biotech is drawing another $117 million from the venture capital well. The funds will fuel the development of T-cell engager and cytokine treatments for solid tumors, including the advancement of its lead asset into the clinic. 

Amunix is developing its lead program, AMX-818, for the treatment of solid tumors that express HER2. AMX-818 is a T-cell engager, a drug that’s designed to unleash an immune attack against tumors at the site of the cancer, with the goal of shrinking tumors without triggering cytokine release syndrome (CRS), an immune overreaction sometimes seen with CAR-T therapies. 

RELATED: ESMO: Amunix's T-cell engagers shrink solid tumors in animal models 

The company presented data showing the drug shrank large tumors in mice at the virtual meeting of the European Society for Medical Oncology in September last year. 

Beyond pushing AMX-818 into the clinic, the funds will support the development of Amunix’s other T-cell engagers, including programs targeting PSMA, EGFR and TROP2, as well as its cytokine programs.  

“We are building on the promise of these potent drugs to target and attack solid tumors, while potentially reducing their toxicity. Although widely recognized as powerful anti-tumor agents, the on-target and off-tumor toxicity of non-masked T cell engager and cytokine therapeutics has limited their utility,” said Amunix CEO Angie You, Ph.D., in a statement. 

Amunix’s investors Redmile Group, Venrock, Casdin Capital, Omega Funds, Frazier Healthcare Partners, Longitude Capital and Polaris Partners returned for the series B round. Viking Global Investors led the round, with new backers including Bain Capital Life Sciences and BlackRock also joining in. 

RELATED: Roche taps Amunix's tech in $40M non-cancer R&D deal 

Amunix started out in 2006 and spent most of its life licensing technology to the likes of Biogen and Merck 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. In 2019, Amunix started applying its tools to its own pipeline.