German next-gen checkpoint inhibitor startup reels in €40M

Bundles of Euro currency notes

iOmx Therapeutics has raised €40 million ($44.6 million) in a Series A round to get to proof-of-concept data for “several” of its first-in-class therapeutics to address novel immune checkpoint targets. The startup, formed earlier this year, aims to improve upon the efficacy of approved checkpoint inhibitors.

Heavyweights MPM Capital and Sofinnova Partners co-led the oversubscribed round, which also included Wellington Partners and Merck Ventures.

"The company combines all the key features we are looking for when investing: an exceptional management team, world class science, and a market breaking technology platform that has the potential to build a strong pipeline of proprietary and more efficacious cancer therapeutics," said Henrijette Richter, a partner at Sofinnova, in a statement.

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The German startup is based on systematic screening of human tumor cells to find new targets and then analyze their mechanism of action. It is basing its research efforts on 6 immune-oncology targets. The idea is to create "organ-specific tumor evasion strategies" as the basis of next-gen cancer immunotherapy.

It’s based on the work of co-founder Philipp Beckhove, who was with the German Cancer Research Center. iOmx was founded in March by Beckhove alongside Nisit Khandelwal, Patrick Baeuerle, Sebastian Meier-Ewert and Elmar Maier.

"The development of checkpoint inhibitors represents a major advance in the treatment of certain cancers. However, despite some truly transformative successes, to date only a minority of patients benefit from existing treatment options. We aim to bring the advances in immuno-oncology to a greater proportion of cancer patients," said Meier-Ewert, who is the company’s CEO.

He founded German oncology company GPC Biotech in 1997 and helped build that company as its CSO. He then went on to become a managing director for MPM Capital. As for GPC, it merged with Agennix in 2009, although the resulting company fizzled out in 2013.

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