Vasella helps Numab to CHF22M round ahead of cancer trial start

Numab Therapeutics has raised CHF 22 million ($23.8 million) ahead of the start of clinical testing of its lead oncology drug ND021. Daniel Vasella, the former CEO of Novartis, was among the people to participate in the financing round.

In recent years, Numab has entered into a series of partnerships, landing deals with companies such as 3SBio, Eisai and Ono Pharmaceutical. The alliances tap into Numab’s ability to create multispecific antibody-based therapeutics. Like some other players in the multispecific space, Numab describes its technology as a plug-and-play platform that can quickly generate novel candidates. 

Now, Numab is closing in on the start of a clinical trial that will begin to show whether its approach can deliver on the promise that attracted a string of partners. The trial, which is due to start this year, will test PD-L1x4-1BBxHSA trispecific ND021 in cancer patients.

With the clinical trial start date looming into view, Numab has raised a CHF 22 million series B round. As disclosed late last year, 3SBio-subsidiary Sunshine Guojian put CHF 15 million into the B round (PDF), making it the main contributor. Numab also received investment from Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, Eisai and Vasella, who joined the company’s board of directors last year. 

Some of the money will go toward the ND021 clinical trial. Numab is moving the candidate into the clinic in the belief simultaneously targeting PD-L1 on cancer cells and costimulatory receptor 4-1BB on T cells will deliver the efficacy of existing immuno-oncology drugs with a cleaner toxicity profile.

Other companies, including Genmab, are also working on drugs that hit PD-L1 and 4-1BB at the same time. However, Numab thinks ND021 has an edge over the competition, pointing to its affinity for PD-L1 and use of a half-life extending HSA-binding motif to make its case.

Numab will use the rest of the money to continue expanding its pipeline and moving other assets toward the clinic. The Swiss biotech’s preclinical pipeline features an anti-TNF antibody fragment to treat inflammatory bowel disease and several multispecifics against undisclosed targets involved in chronic inflammation and immuno-oncology. 

The platform behind the candidates, branded MATCH, enables Numab to go after multiple targets at once. According to Numab, the platform supports molecules with up to six binding specificities.