Big Pharma ally Atreca scoops $35M as I-O assets near IND

Atreca plans to pick a clinical candidate by the end of the year.

Atreca has raised $35 million. The series B tees up Atreca to pick its first clinical candidate derived from a platform that has attracted the interest of a who’s who of Big Pharma players. 

New investor Wellington Management co-led the round with the anonymous U.S. healthcare fund that drove Atreca to a $56 million series A in 2015. Atreca funneled that money into its preclinical research programs. And, by the time Atreca picked up its Fierce 15 award 11 months ago, it had set its sights on filing an IND in 2018.

Redwood City, California-based Atreca has now refueled to continue its discovery efforts while stepping up its push into development. Management plans to pick a clinical candidate from its lead oncology program by the end of the year.

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“This funding enables us to accelerate the acquisition of immune response data central to cancer immunotherapy and to expand and advance our pipeline of novel antibody therapeutics based on those data,” Atreca CEO Tito Serafini, Ph.D., said in a statement. 

The biotech’s pipeline is underpinned by a platform dubbed Immune Repertoire Capture. Atreca uses the tool to single out the antibodies, T-cell receptors and targets that drive successful immune responses. By learning what successful anticancer immune responses look like, Atreca thinks it can design targeted therapeutics that enable more patients to mount such attacks on tumors.

Atreca is using the platform to build a cancer immunotherapy pipeline. But, as always, the flipside of knowing how to dial up an immune response is that Atreca also has ideas about how to damp them down. That led Johnson & Johnson to sign up to work with Atreca on autoimmune diseases in 2014.

J&J is one of a clutch of drugmakers with relationships with Atreca. GlaxoSmithKline chipped into the series A. And Novartis, Pfizer and Sanofi also occupy spots on Atreca’s list of collaborators. Spying an opportunity to address infectious diseases, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has also invested in and partnered with Atreca.