Biotech Symphogen tacks on $53.7M to big venture round after Merck Serono deal

Symphogen has replenished its coffers with €41 million ($53.7 million) as the Danish biotech makes progress with next-generation antibody drugs for treating cancer. The latest capital infusion adds to €100 million ($130.9 million) that the company previously raised in 2011 for the round, giving the company about 100 million euros in cash as of today, according to the group's press release.

Novo A/S and PKA each pumped €20 million into Symphogen to lead the latest investment round, which included money from Danica Pension, the Copenhagen-based company said. Symphogen has reeled in a total of €249 million from those investors as well as Essex Woodlands Health Ventures.

Symphogen has prospered on the financing front amid a wintery investment climate for biotech startups in Europe, and the company struck a €495 million deal in September with Germany-based Merck KGaA for its lead anticancer drug Sym004. The candidate mixes two anti-EGFR antibodies to combat cancer growth, and the company has begun Phase II testing of the antibody duo in patients with aggressive forms of colorectal cancer and head and neck cancer.

Antibody mixtures offer the ability to attack disease on multiple fronts, giving the treatments the ability to overcome the problem of resistance found in patients treated with only one monoclonal antibody. Roche's ($RHHBY) Genentech had previously partnered with Symphogen to advance the company's next-generation antibody attacks on infectious diseases.

"We met an important goal last year when we partnered with Merck-Serono on our most advanced oncology asset," Kirsten Drejer, Symphogen's CEO, said in a statement. "Going forward, we will continue to partner when appropriate as well as identify assets in our pipeline that we can advance to the market ourselves."

The Danish biotech's most advanced drug development efforts are in hematology and oncology. Bolstering its expertise in oncology, the company has added Dr. Anthony Tolcher, president and cofounder of early-stage drug development group START, to the biotech group's board of directors.

- here's the release
- see Bloomberg's article

Editor's Note: The euro-to-dollar conversions in this story are based on this morning's exchange rates.

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