Cambridge, MA startup snags $20M for therapeutic vaccine program

After importing the IP for a new therapeutic vaccine that promises to desensitize celiac disease patients to the toxic effects of gluten, the newly established ImmusanT has rounded up $20 million from a single investor to back its mid-stage clinical development work.

Launched in Cambridge, MA last March, ImmusanT quickly attracted attention from the biotech community for Nexvax2, which pooled three gluten-derived peptides into an injection for celiac patients. Drawing on the work of the company's scientific founder, the Australian Bob Anderson, who folded his biotech down under and relocated to the U.S. to work with ImmusanT co-founder Leslie Williams, the startup quickly pushed through Phase I with the backing of angel investors.

All the money for the Series A is coming from Vatera Healthcare Partners, which also backed Pearl Therapeutics. And ImmusanT is working with Inova to develop a diagnostic that can be used to ID the celiac disease patients able to benefit from the therapeutic vaccine.

"There is tremendous enthusiasm for Nexvax2 from celiac patients and clinicians who want a therapy that allows patients to resume a normal diet and return to good health and improved quality of life," Williams said in a statement. "The financial backing and support of Vatera Healthcare Partners will allow us to round out our team and advance our research and development programs to bear out this hypothesis."

- here's the press release