CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--ImmusanT Inc. announced today it has raised $12 million in Series B financing from Vatera Healthcare Partners LLC to advance development of the company's immunotherapy, Nexvax2®, a companion diagnostic and a standalone, blood-based diagnostic for celiac disease. The proceeds will fund the Phase 2 clinical development of Nexvax2 to demonstrate proof-of-concept as well as continued development of ImmusanT's diagnostics.
The only treatment option currently available for celiac disease patients is abiding by a strict diet that excludes gluten. Nexvax2 is a disease-modifying immunotherapy designed to enable patients with celiac disease to have a diet containing gluten by tolerizing, or reprogramming, their immune system to tolerate gluten. Recently, ImmusanT completed two Phase 1b studies of Nexvax2 and achieved their objective of demonstrating safety, tolerability and relevant bioactivity. The results have informed the design of Phase 2 studies, which will commence in early 2015.
"Vatera is pleased with the progress ImmusanT has made over the last two years and is encouraged by the promising data and ongoing development of Nexvax2. We believe that ImmusanT's technology has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of patients affected by celiac disease," said Kevin Ferro, CEO of Vatera Holdings LLC and chairman of ImmusanT's board of directors.
Nexvax2 is an adjuvant-free immunotherapy comprised solely of three gluten-derived peptides in saline that are responsible for the immune reaction that causes celiac disease. In addition, ImmusanT is developing a noninvasive, standalone blood-based diagnostic for celiac disease and a companion diagnostic designed to identify patients most likely to respond to Nexvax2.
"We are proud to lead the effort to build a robust clinical development program for this exciting new class of highly selective epitope-specific immunotherapies (ESIT). Vatera's ongoing support and shared vision have been instrumental in realizing the full potential of our innovative technology," said Leslie Williams, president and CEO of ImmusanT. "Nexvax2 remains the only treatment in development that could eventually allow patients to resume a diet containing gluten and therefore, continues to be of great interest to both celiac disease patients and clinicians."
About Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is a T cell-mediated autoimmune-like disease triggered by the ingestion of gluten from wheat, rye and barley. A gluten-free diet is the only current medical treatment for this disease. The community prevalence of celiac disease is approximately one percent in the U.S., but 83 percent of cases go unrecognized. When a person with celiac disease consumes gluten the individual's immune system responds by triggering T cells to fight the offending proteins, damaging the small intestine and inhibiting the absorption of important nutrients into the body. With no available drug therapy, the only option for the approximately one percent of the global population that has celiac disease is to eliminate gluten from the diet. Compliance is often challenging, and nearly half the people on the strict elimination diet still have residual damage to their small intestine.
Undiagnosed, celiac disease is a major contributor to poor educational performance and failure to thrive in children. Untreated disease in adults is associated with increased risk of fractures and osteoporosis, problems during pregnancy and birth, short stature, dental enamel hypoplasia, dermatitis, recurrent stomatitis and cancer.
About ImmusanT Inc.
ImmusanT is focused on restoring tolerance to gluten in celiac disease by harnessing new discoveries in immunology that aim to improve diagnosis and treatment and return patients to a normal diet, good health and improved quality of life. The company is developing Nexvax2®, a therapeutic vaccine for celiac disease, and a companion diagnostic and monitoring tool to improve celiac disease management. ImmusanT's targeted immunotherapy discovery platform can be applied to a variety of epitope-specific autoimmune diseases. Founded in 2010, ImmusanT is backed by Vatera Healthcare Partners. More information may be found at www.ImmusanT.com, or follow ImmusanT on Twitter.
About Vatera Healthcare Partners LLC
Vatera Healthcare Partners is a venture capital firm focused on investing in biopharmaceutical firms and products, with the goal of identifying and developing best-in-class therapies to treat unmet medical needs and improve patients' lives. Vatera aims to build companies by leveraging its team's collective experience and expertise in the pharmaceutical industry and strong network of relationships within industry and academia. For more information, visit www.vaterahealthcare.com.