Antibody developer arGEN-X has scored $37 million (€27.5 million) in a fresh round of venture funding. The startup, which has operations in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and Ghent, Belgium, has a unique discovery platform in which it immunizes llamas to identify antibodies that match human antibodies.
The young company has rounded up funds from some big-name venture backers, including the U.S. firm OrbiMed Advisors, which co-led the round with Seventure Partners of France. A bevy of repeat backers in the round included Forbion Capital Partners, Credit Agricole Private Equity, LSP, BioGeneration Ventures, the Erasmus Biomedical Fund, Thuja Capital and VIB. OrbiMed founding partner Dr. Mike Sheffery is joining the biotech's board.
The VC firms' bet on arGEN-X comes as the startup works on advancing 5 preclinical programs, with a focus on three big disease areas: autoimmunity, inflammation and cancer. Its lead antibody, called ARGX-110, targets a cell surface receptor active in cancers and autoimmune diseases, and the goal is to file an IND in early 2013 to begin clinical testing. The company discovers antibodies with its "SIMPLE" platform, which the company says "is based on the active immunization of Camelids [which includes llamas] with target antigens to deliver antibody variable regions that are perfectly matched to those of human antibodies."
"We are very impressed by how arGEN-X'... platform transforms candidate selection in antibody drug discovery, clearly differentiating it from other antibody platforms in the industry," OrbiMed's Sheffery stated. "The choice it provides is enabling the company to create high quality, truly differentiated products."
- here's the release