Cancer upstart CBT closes $9.7M Series A; OrbiMed lead investor

The Asian unit of perpetual life science backer OrbiMed has led a modest $9.7 million first round for biotech CBT Pharmaceuticals as it looks to build up its c-Met and I/O pipeline of cancer meds.

CBT has closed the $9.75 million Series A financing (that includes $2 million in warrants), and with the proceeds, along with $5 million seed funding from its parent, the Californian biotech Crown Bioscience, sees the fledgling biotech’s operating capital nudge up to $14.75 million.

The company is currently working on a pipeline of four candidates, with its two leading compounds being CBT-101 and CBT-501.

The former is an oral c-Met inhibitor designed to target the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) pathway in certain cancers, while the latter is a PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor, which works by helping the body’s immune system recognize and help kill tumors.

It’s also got at the back of its pipeline a preclinical multi-targeted kinase inhibitor that is designed to go after uncontrolled growth signaling pathways and PD-L1 antibody.

CBT says it is “seeking partners for combination therapies” with its PD-1 and PDL-1 antibodies. This may include it going after big players such as Merck ($MRK), Bristol-Myers ($BMY) and Roche ($RHHBY), who all have approved PD-1/PD-L1 meds on the market, but have also set up a number of combo trials with other cancer drugs to try and boost efficacy.  

Its board includes chair Guo-Liang Yu, also executive chairman of Crown Bioscience International and Jonathan Wang, senior M.D. and co-founder of OrbiMed Asia. The biotech’s CEO and president is Sanjeev Redkar, who also founded the company this year.

“This financing allows us to advance two of our four development programs into human clinical trials,” said Redkar.

“CBT-101, a highly specific inhibitor of the c-MET receptor, has shown robust activity in patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models with a wide safety margin. CBT-101 is currently in a Phase I trial in China, and we plan to initiate a Phase I study in the United States in early 2017 to evaluate the safety, tolerability and preliminary efficacy in cancer patients with c-MET dysregulated malignancies.

“We also plan to initiate a Phase 1 study of CBT-501, an anti PD-1 monoclonal antibody, in south-east Asia in 2017. An Investigational Drug Application has been filed and CBT-501 is also awaiting the start of a Phase I trial in China.”

Its biggest backer, OrbiMed Asia--the Asian unit of OrbiMed--has offices in Shanghai and Mumbai and a kitty of more than $500 million under management.