Grid Therapeutics is planning to start trials of its lead cancer immunotherapy next year after raising $5 million in second-round financing.
The antibody drug, called GT103, is thought to work by activating the complement arm of the immune system, which is separate to the adaptive immune system that relies on antibodies and white blood cells to fight cancer.
It will be tested first in patients with advanced, late-stage solid tumors, and Grid’s chief business officer Scott Lyman tells us that should be sufficient to bring the phase 1 trial to its conclusion.
The Durham, North Carolina-based biotech was set up to develop immunotherapy drugs derived from antibodies that have been taken from patients with early stage cancer that never goes on to metastasize around the body. The approach—developed in the lab of Grid’s founder Edward Patz, M.D., of Duke University Medical Center—identified a tumor antigen-targeting antibody that inhibits a protein (complement factor H) protecting tumor cells from attack by the immune system.
The company hopes that blocking CFH with GT103 will bring down cancer cells’ defenses against attack by the complement system. Moreover, preclinical research suggests this may also help marshal the adaptive immune response to the tumor.
Lyman said that while it now has the funding in place to bring GT103 forward, the company is “always assessing opportunities for new assets and may seek additional capital to fund the platform.”
He also reckons the company is fully set up for the next phase of its development, adding: “While we are always interested in adding highly qualified resources to our team, we have now substantially assembled our core team, which is focused on completing the IND submission for GT103 and commencing the Phase 1 study.”
Last year, Grid announced a partnership with Catalent to scale up the production of GT103 in preparation for clinical trials at Catalent’s Madison, Wisconsin, biomanufacturing facility.
The Series B was led by Milestone Holdings, a California VC, as well as software entrepreneur Paul Funk and Jeffery “TJ” Heyman, founder of Woodbourne Capital Management International.