Compass Therapeutics launches with $132M to advance a clutch of antibodies

According to Compass, its tech can drug two new targets each month and can generate new candidates in less than two months. (Nadine Doerlé)

Compass Therapeutics is coming out of stealth with $132 million in series A cash, 15 prospects in preclinical development and a lead oncology asset poised to enter the clinic in 2019. It's keeping specific targets and indications under wraps but will focus initially on cancer before expanding to inflammatory and autoimmune disease. 

“The proceeds from this round will be used to rapidly advance our first therapeutic candidate, CTX-471, into the clinic, and to nominate two additional clinical candidates by the end of this year," said Compass CEO Tom Schuetz, M.D., Ph.D., in a statement. "I am grateful for our strong investor syndicate that has continued to support the company since its inception."

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech closed the last $49 million of its fundraise Thursday and is backed by a range of investors, including OrbiMed, F-Prime Capital, Cowen Healthcare Investments, Thiel Capital and Alexandria Real Estate Investors. It had previously indicated in an SEC filing that it had raised an additional $60 million in priced warrants. 

"One of our founding principles was to create a company that thinks differently about monoclonal antibody-based drug discovery," Schuetz said. "In order to do that, we created a discovery platform that is quite powerful. [We're trying to] generate all the components we need to be able to drug the human immune system more effectively. This might be with multispecific medicines, or it might be with combination regimens. We're going to let the data lead us to the best therapeutics and therapeutic regimens."

Compass' antibody and discovery and bispecific engineering platforms quickly identify candidates that "engage with a broad range of epitopes on every target." Speed is its strength—according to the company, its tech can drug two new targets each month and can generate new candidates in less than two months. The tech has churned out candidates for more than 30 targets, and Compass has pushed about half of them into preclinical development, the company said. 

Compass has not disclosed the target for CTX-471 but hopes to do so later this year, Schuetz said. 

"We're doing some work right now to characterize some aspects of the tumor microenvironment in order to inform the final design of the '471 phase 1a and phase 1b trials," he said. Preclinical data suggests that CTX-471 boosts the efficacy of tumor-targeted antibodies, so Compass plans to test it in combination with drugs such as Herceptin, Rituxan and Erbitux, he said. 

The company also hopes to gather data over the next 12 to 18 months that will inform the inflammatory and autoimmune portion of its pipeline. And as it moves toward the clinic, Compass, which is currently 70 strong, will look to hire more personnel in clinical research and regulatory positions, Schuetz said.