Biotech VCs return to back Affimed's cancer drug trials

Affimed Therapeutics has scored 15.5 million euros ($20.1 million) more in venture cash for clinical trials of its drugs that hit two targets with one antibody to kill cancer. The Heidelberg, Germany-based biotech revealed today that its Series D round won support from repeat backers, including Aeris Capital, BioMedInvest, LSP Life Sciences Partners, Novo Nordisk ($NVO) and Orbimed.

The company, a spinoff of the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg, says that its clinical pipeline features two antibody drugs. The lead candidate, AFM13, homes in on a pair of targets to trigger immune attacks on tumors, and results from a Phase I study of the antibody as a treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma are expected in December. And the company's candidate called AFM11, which seeks out two different targets to spur immune reactions, is expected to hit the clinic next year.    

Affimed, which develops antibodies against cancer and anti-inflammatory ailments, specializes in double-target or "bispecific" antibodies that zero in on molecules on the surface of cancer and immune cells to activate the body's own defenses against diseases. The company's so-called "TandAbs" are among a number of multi-functional antibodies from biotech companies to improve treatment of diseases, particularly cancer. Some of its rivals in the bispecific antibody arena include the U.S. biotech MacroGenics, Germany's Micromet (acquired by Amgen ($AMGN) this year) and Denmark's Genmab, among others. Those contenders have attracted pharma partnerships or, in the case of Micromet, a buyout deal, based on their antibody platforms.

At Affimed, the focus has been on trialing its next-generation biologics in humans after years of discovery and preclinical work. Dr. Adi Hoess, CEO of Affimed, said in a statement: "AFM11 and AFM13 represent real opportunities to generate highly potent medicines for patients with severe malignancies and furthermore could create substantial value for investors. The closing of our Series D financing will allow us to further advance our programs and to generate important clinical data."

- here's the release

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