Bristol Myers-backed TORL secures $158M to march army of ADCs through clinic

For companies exploring the antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) arena, the interest from Big Pharma and big-pocketed investors appears to be as strong as ever.

The latest biotech to benefit from the ADC boom is TORL BioTherapeutics, which has brought in $158 million via a so-called series B2 financing. The oversubscribed round was led by Deep Track Capital and featured the return of backers such as Bristol Myers Squibb, Goldman Sachs Alternatives, UC Investments and Vertex Ventures, to name a few. There were also some new investors in the mix in the form of RA Capital Management, Perceptive Advisors and Avidity Partners.

TORL already has an array of ADCs in the clinic and has earmarked the funds to bankroll current trials and planned studies.

Heading up the company’s pipeline is TORL-1-23, which is undergoing a phase 1 study. The company is already gearing up to launch a phase 2 study later this year “to facilitate regulatory review and potential approvals for TORL-1-23 as a new therapy for patients with CLDN 6+, platinum-resistant ovarian cancer,” TORL explained in an April 10 release.

Also coming through the clinic is the TORL-2-307 program, which includes a two-part phase 1 trial that sees patients either receive a monoclonal antibody or an ADC as a treatment for CLDN 18.2+ solid tumors.

Two other ADCs—TORL-3-600 and TORL-4-500—are also in early-stage clinical trials to assess their potential to treat CDH17+ colorectal cancer and DLK1-positive solid tumors, respectively.

These candidates form part of a “large program of biologics-based drugs for new, promising, and novel cancer targets” developed in the lab of noted UCLA cancer researcher Dennis Slamon, M.D., Ph.D., TORL explained.

With the latest $158 million fundraising haul, the biotech has now brought in a total of $350 million since launching in 2019.

TORL hasn’t been the only biotech to benefit from the boom in investor interest in ADCs. Last month, Germany-based Tubulis wrapped up its own series B2 financing round to the tune of 128 million euros ($138.8 million). And only last week, Merck & Co. scooped up a University at Buffalo startup called Abceutics that’s been working on improving the safety of ADCs.