Third Rock, Novo Holdings-backed Clasp Tx hooks $150M series A for next-gen cancer treatments

A new immuno-oncology biotech has emerged, clasping $150 million that will go toward developing next-generation T cell engagers (TCEs) targeting a range of hard-to-treat tumors.

Clasp Therapeutics unveiled March 20, touting a series A co-led by Catalio Capital Management, Third Rock Ventures and Novo Holdings, the latter of which manages the Novo Nordisk Foundation's assets.

The newly launched biotech is built on advances made by scientific founders Bert Vogelstein, M.D., and Drew Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D., both of whom are professors at Johns Hopkins University. The company’s platform is designed to help develop modular TCEs that are tailored to each patient’s oncogenic driver mutations. 

Clasp’s TCEs are bispecific-antibody-like molecules that can bind to both a T cell and a tumor-specific mutant peptide at the same time. The approach aims to ensure immune activation against the tumor while sparing normal tissue, which lacks the tumor-specific mutated peptide.

The resulting treatment should be a highly specific, off-the-shelf medicine that ditches toxicities commonly associated with on-target, off-tumor binding, CEO Robert Ross, M.D., said in the March 20 release.

“We have the ability to redirect T cells to kill cancer cells while sparing healthy cells throughout the body,” Andrea Van Elsas, Ph.D., chief scientific officer at Clasp and partner at Third Rock Ventures, said in the release.

“Clasp’s proprietary technology enables immune targeting of intracellular oncogenic driver mutations to achieve durable tumor killing, even with low levels of surface presentation,” Elsas added. “Furthermore, the modularity of Clasp’s TCE platform gives it potential to address unmet need across a broad range of hard-to-treat tumor types.”