Belgium’s Camel-IDS reels in €37M to push breast cancer radiotherapy

Camel-IDS' lead program, CAM-H2, is based on its technology that links radionuclides—radioactive atoms or nuclei—with single-domain antibodies derived from the camel family. (Pixabay)

Camel-IDS raised €37 million ($42 million) in series A financing to run a phase 1b/2 trial of its lead program, a radioactive compound dubbed CAM-H2, in HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread to the brain. The company will also advance and expand its preclinical pipeline.

Patients with HER2-positive breast cancer tend to fare well on targeted treatments—which include Genentech’s Herceptin, Perjeta and Kadcyla—but their prognosis worsens when the cancer metastasizes in the brain.

Current treatments include surgically removing individual brain tumors and radiation therapy for multiple brain metastases, but, according to a paper in Clinical Cancer Research “there is no current consensus on subsequent therapy for those with intracranial progression and effective, FDA-approved, drugs for this indication remain an area of unmet need.”

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The Vrije Universiteit Brussel spinout is working to plug this gap with a radiopharmaceutical that targets brain tumors without harming healthy tissue. Its lead program, CAM-H2, is based on its technology that links radionuclides—radioactive atoms or nuclei—with single-domain antibodies derived from, you guessed it, the camel family. This technology also allows for a theranostic approach, the company said, in which patients are identified via a low-dose or imaging version of the treatment and then given a high-dose to actually treat their cancer.

RELATED: J&J leads $25M series A in targeted radiotherapy startup

“From early on in our discussions, the renowned expertise of the Camel-IDS’ team in radio-immunotherapy became clear, with [Chief Scientific Officer] Tony Lahoutte bringing exceptional knowledge to the table. Together with Ruth Devenyns as CEO, an industry veteran of the European biotech landscape and successful entrepreneur, the company is well positioned to move up to the next level,” said Karl Naegler of Gimv, which participated in the financing, along with V-Bio Ventures, HealthCap, Novo Seeds, Pontifax, BioMedPartners, as well as from previous backers.

The funding comes shortly after Novartis struck a $2.1 billion (€1.8 billion) deal to acquire Endocyte, which specializes in radiopharmaceuticals for targeted cancer treatment. And the Big Pharma got a quick payoff from its $3.9 billion acquisition of Advanced Accelerator Applications in October 2017. Just three months later, Lutathera, the peptide receptor radionuclide therapy it picked up in the deal, scored an FDA nod for rare cancers of the digestive tract.

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