After Belgium biotech argenx signed a preclinical immuno-oncology deal with U.S. giant AbbVie ($ABBV) for $685 million back in April, it has now also raised $33 million in the country as it looks to expand its footprint in the U.S.
The company, which focuses on therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of cancer and severe autoimmune diseases, says it has today successfully closed the €30 million ($33.4 million) raise--with U.S. investors plumping up much of the cash.
These investors include Aquilo Capital, Burrage Capital, Dafna Capital, MPM Oncology Impact Fund and Perceptive Advisors.
The biotech said 2.7 million shares have been issued at €11.10 and are expected to be admitted to listing on Euronext Brussels next week, where it is listed--although the biotech is edging nearer to a Nasdaq listing, with this latest U.S. funding interest potentially seeing it take one step closer to its stated goal of listing on the U.S. stock exchange provider.
It’s been a good 2016 for the company, which began with it selling shares worth €16 million ($17.5 million) to a major U.S. asset manager back in January, and then things got even better when it signed the multimillion-dollar deal with AbbVie in late April.
This pact will see the biotech complete preclinical testing of its preclinical immuno-oncology candidate ARGX-115 and, if all goes well, then hand over human testing to AbbVie. The drugmaker will also fund further GARP-related research by argenx for the next two years, and has options to license drugs coming from the R&D program.
The biotech hopes that its candidate could treat all cancers as ARGX-115 works by stimulating a patient’s immune system after a tumor has suppressed the immune system by co-opting different immunosuppressive cells such as regulatory T-cells (Tregs)--which can inhibit other immune effector cells through the production of active TGF-β.
Argenx said that the membrane protein GARP plays a key role in the regulation of production of active TGF-β by Tregs and in preclinical studies of ARGX-115, the drug has shown it can inhibit the immunosuppressive activity of human Tregs by binding to GARP-inactive TGF-β complex and preventing release of active TGF-β.
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