Based: Louisville, CO
The Scoop: "This year will put everyone at GlobeImmune to a crucial test. It has three mid-stage trials underway, unusual for any small biotech. But a major venture round last fall--its third--has provided the biotech enough money to see if its drug platform--engineering a T-cell attack on diseased cells--can produce the kind of definitive data that big pharma is after."
What makes it Fierce: GlobeImmune's third round last fall was its biggest: $41.2 million that brought its total venture haul to $88 million. Wexford capital led the round and Celgene, Boston Life Science Venture, Morgenthaler Ventures and Biogen Idec all participated.
The money takes the company to a crucial inflection point: Phase II data that determines if the company's platform technology can deliver the kind of T-cell response it is looking for. The biotech has three mid-stage studies underway to determine if its genetically modified recombinant yeast can induce T-cells to attack pancreatic cancer and hepatitis C. The therapeutic potential of T cells are a major focus right now in biotechnology.
GlobeImmune has been developing Tarmogens--Targeted Molecular Immunogens--based on scientific research in-licensed from the University of Colorado. And its development programs in divergent areas like hep C and cancer underscores just how broad a range the company could have. One successful program could lead to several more. Enrollment for the hepatitis C Phase II was wrapped in May. The study for pancreatic cancer is underway and a Phase IIa in non-small cell lung cancer--enrolling patients with a ras mutation--was launched in March.
What to look for: The proof is in the data. A successful mid-stage trial sets the stage for broadening the company's research activities, is likely to excite new partnership interest and also moves the company one step closer to evaluating its worth in a potential IPO.