Bicara nets second nine-digit haul in nine months, raising $165M series C

Venture capitalists and biotech CEOs have been largely speaking with one voice this year with respect to the state of new financing, underscoring that the only thing that matters is having enough money to last until the next catalyst.

Bicara Therapeutics is acting on that advice, closing a $165 million series C just nine months after raising a $108 million series B. The new round is quadruple the $40 million secured by Bicara when it launched in 2021. The current crop of investors include Braidwell LP and TPG, with additional contributions from Deerfield, Fairmount, Aisling Capital and “a leading biotechnology investor associated with one of the largest alternative asset managers.” 

The new funds will be used primarily for the clinical development of lead asset BCA101, which is designed to be both a monotherapy and combo treatment with Keytruda for patients with solid tumors. Bicara has whittled down the patient population to those with HPV-negative, recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, advanced squamous non-small cell lung cancer (SqNSCLC) and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. 

CEO Claire Mazumdar, Ph.D., said in a release Tuesday that interest in the company increased after this year’s medical meeting circuit. Updated data presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology annual event in October found that the combo regimen had a 57% objective response rate in patients with advanced head and neck cancer. Nearly 90% of the 28 evaluable patients had disease control and median progression-free survival in the HPV-negative group had not been reached at the time of the update.

“With additional data readouts anticipated in 2024, we remain excited about the overall potential of BCA101 to help patients with HPV-negative R/M HNSCC, as well as other solid tumor types,” said Mazumdar. 

The asset is a bifunctional antibody aimed at EGFR and TGF-β, two targets that impact immune suppression and tumor growth. The goal is that BCA101 can stymie tumors from proliferating while rallying the immune system's troops to the site; the latter goal is hopefully made more robust with the addition of a checkpoint inhibitor like Keytruda. 

All existing series B investors contributed to Bicara’s new round, which included staple biotech backers like RA Capital, Omega Funds and Red Tree Venture Capital.