Sanofi-backed Abcuro loads up with $155M series B to push KLRG1 antibody through clinic

Abcuro will draw on an oversubscribed series B round to continue the journey of its anti-KLRG1 candidate through clinical trials for a muscle disease and cancers.

The latest round of $155 million follows a $42 million series A co-led by Sanofi Ventures in 2021. Back then, the company was focused on getting its lead candidate ABC008 into a proof-of-mechanism trial for a muscle inflammation disease called sporadic inclusion body myositis (IBM).

Since then, the monoclonal antibody has made it into a phase 2/3 study for the same condition, and Abcuro plans to use some of its new financial firepower to complete the trial.

While other autoimmune-focused biotechs are targeting CD25, CD2, CD52 and ICOS in an attempt to drive the depletion of cytotoxic T cells, Abcuro has stacked its chips on KLRG1. The company’s logic is that KLRG1 expression is restricted to highly cytotoxic late-differentiated effector memory and effector T cells.

Because IBM is driven by T-cell attacks on muscle fibers that lead to loss of hand function and ability to walk, it’s made for a good proving ground for the concept. So far, the bet seems to be paying off, with the company pointing earlier this year to phase 1 data that showed “near complete depletion of blood target cells [that] persisted with repeat dosing.” Still, the real proof will be when the phase 2/3 study begins the efficacy stage in the coming months.

The company is also overseeing a phase 1/2 clinical trial of ABC008 in T-cell large granular lymphocytic leukemia, with plans to set aside part of the new funds to start a third trial in T- and NK-cell lymphomas. 

Sanofi was back on board as one of the investors for the series B round, which this time was led by Redmile Group and Bain Capital Life Sciences.

“Support from such a strong group of investors will allow us to complete our development programs in diseases where there are few to no treatment options available,” CEO Alex Martin said in the release.

“We’re committed to executing on our clinical trials including our registrational trial in inclusion body myositis,” added Martin, who joined the biotech in October after stints as CEO at Palladio Biosciences and Realm Therapeutics.