Third Rock takes lead on $33M C round for antibody upstart Igenica

Antibody drug upstart Igenica has added Third Rock to its list of top-level venture backers. The Burlingame, CA-based biotech says Third Rock led a $33 million C round for the company, bringing its total venture haul to $55 million as it preps for clinical studies of its cancer treatment programs.

Igenica touts its use of a pair of technologies to track down promising next-gen antibodies for multiple cancer uses. One of its platform technologies is dubbed sTAg, which Igenica describes as "a new approach to discovering and prioritizing novel tumor antigens." The second platform is called iTAb, a functional in vivo antibody screening approach.

"Third Rock's investment highlights the broad potential of Igenica's antibody technology and provides strategic flexibility as we execute our operating and business plans," says David Goeddel, the executive chairman at Igenica and a managing partner at The Column Group, which joined with 5AM Ventures and Orbimed in starting the company. "Moreover, we are now advancing a product candidate toward the clinic that has the potential to improve treatment outcomes for cancer patients."

Third Rock partner Mark Goldsmith, the executive chairman at Constellation Pharma, an epigenetics company, has taken a set on the board. 

- here's the press release

ALSO: In related VC news, Austin, TX-based Savara Pharmaceuticals announced that it raised $8.6 million in Series B cash to back its work on AeroVanc (vancomycin hydrochloride inhalation powder) through a Phase IIa clinical efficacy study. The inhaled antibiotic is being developed for MRSA infections among patients with cystic fibrosis. The Keiretsu Forum led the round, whichincluded existing investors. 

"This new financing recognizes the progress we have made in advancing AeroVanc very rapidly through the early product development, including a Phase I clinical study in healthy volunteers and CF patients. The funding will allow us to carry out our planned Phase IIa efficacy trial of AeroVanc in MRSA-infected CF patients, scheduled to start early next year," said Robert Neville, the CEO at Savara. Release