Okairos vets boot up cancer I/O player Nouscom with $13M A round


The same team that brought you Okairos--bought out by GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) three years ago for $325 million--has rounded up a $13 million A round to pursue new work on a pair of cancer immunotherapy technologies. And they’re working with some familiar faces in the venture world.

Versant Ventures, one of the backers at Merck spinout Okairos, has come in to support the Series A for the Basel-based biotech. They were joined by Life Sciences Partners, a European venture team.

Nouscom has been working on a pair of cancer immunotherapies, extrapolated from their earlier work at Okairos using adenovirus vectors from chimps to spur a sustained T cell response against a specific target. On the one hand they’re working on an off-the-shelf approach that uses oncolytic viruses to attack and destroy cancer cells, while also focusing on assembling neoantigens inside vectors for a personalized cancer vaccine.

Personalized cancer vaccines have become a hot field in a short period of time, spawning a lineup of new biotech players like Gritstone, Neon Therapeutics ($NEON) and a Moderna spinoff dubbed Caperna. And there are several new efforts to take the oncolytic virus approach and do better than Amgen’s pioneering T-VEC, which was approved last year.

Okairos was a 2012 Fierce 15 company.

This new company is also helmed by Riccardo Cortese, the CEO, along with co-founder Alfredo Nicosia. Elisa Scarselli is the CSO.

"The Nouscom platform offers an innovative approach to cancer vaccines that is versatile, powerful and scalable," said Guido Magni, a partner at Versant Ventures. "Further, since we backed this same team at Okairos, we know the members' skill level, dedication and ability to build a successful company."

- here's the release