IGM Biosciences grabs $102M to push bispecific into the clinic

IGM believes its platform creates IgM antibodies that are stronger and bind more strongly to their targets than IgMs that occur naturally. (Getty/NosUA)

IGM Biosciences picked up $102 million in series C financing to work on its pipeline of cancer drugs, including a CD20- and CD3-targeting bispecific antibody slated to start clinical trials by the end of the year. 

The capital, garnered from the likes of Redmile Group Janus Henderson Investors, Vivo Capital and Haldor Topsøe Holding, will help IGM build its eponymous platform. The Mountain View, California-based company uses its technology to “expand upon the inherent properties of IgM antibodies.” Unlike the ubiquitous IgG antibodies, IgM antibodies are found mainly in the blood and lymph fluid. They are the first antibodies made by the body in response to infection. 

IGM believes its platform creates IgM antibodies that are stronger and bind more securely to their targets than IgMs that occur naturally. What’s more, the company figures this class of antibodies could one-up IgG antibodies because they have many more binding domains. 

“IgM antibodies have 10 binding domains compared to 2 for IgG antibodies, which results in far greater binding power to a cell surface target,” the company says

The company is developing its lead program, IGM-2323, for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. It plans to start a phase 1 study in relapsed or refractory non-Hodgkin lymphoma by the end of 2019. 

It has a second preclinical program targeting Death receptor 5 in solid tumors and blood cancers that’s pegged to enter the clinic in 2020. And it’s got a number of other bispecifics in the research and discovery pipeline including ones targeting CD123 and CD3, and CD38 and CD3 in blood cancers. 

IGM has been on a hiring spree in the past year, picking up Roche/Genentech veteran Daniel Chen, M.D., Ph.D., as its chief medical officer, longtime cancer researcher Wayne Godfrey to head up clinical development and Misbah Tahir, who’s held finance and management roles at Amgen, Human Genome Sciences, Onyx Pharmaceuticals and Dermira, as its chief financial officer.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct IGM Biosciences' name.