ITeos raises $75M to trial immuno-oncology drugs

iTeos Therapeutics has raised $75 million (€64 million) to take two immuno-oncology assets into the clinic. The MPM Capital-led series B tees iTeos up to start dosing patients with an adenosine A2A antagonist later this year while expanding into new offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Belgium-based iTeos first made waves in 2014 when Pfizer paid €24 million for the rights to its IDO1 inhibitor. That program took a hit at the turn of the year when lackluster efficacy in a phase 1 brain cancer trial prompted Pfizer to walk away, and was subsequently blown away as an Incyte-triggered storm engulfed the once-hyped IDO space. But iTeos has recovered quickly from the setback.

With an adenosine A2A antagonist and anti-TIGIT antibody in its preclinical pipeline to soften the IDO blow, iTeos has raised a $75 million series B round. iTeos went global to secure the cash, adding new backers MPM, HBM Partners, 6 Dimensions Capital and Curative Ventures to its previously Belgian-skewed list of shareholders. 

Branching out has given iTeos the money to take its A2A antagonist into the clinic this year and keep going on toward proof of concept. In parallel, iTeos will work to get its anti-TIGIT candidate into human testing next year. Further back, a STING agonist and other programs targeting the tumor microenvironment are coming down the pipeline.

The programs have different targets but all address the broad topic of tumor immunosuppression. By targeting immunosuppressive mechanisms, iTeos aims to stop “cold” tumors from evading immune attacks and dial up the power of the assault against “hot” tumors that respond to existing therapies. Achieving either goal would secure iTeos a role in immuno-oncology combinations. 

A slew of other biotechs have similar goals and are pursuing some of the same targets. But iTeos has persuaded backers that its prospects have the edge over the competition.

“We believe iTeos is a strong investment opportunity with several promising immuno-oncology drugs in its pipeline that have significant clinical advantages over competitive drug candidates,” Ansbert Gadicke, M.D., managing director at MPM, said in a statement. “[iTeos CEO] Michel and his team have an excellent track record of discovering new ways to fight cancer and strategically growing the operations.”