TCR2 Receives $125 Million To Expand T-Cell Program
TCR2 Therapeutics Snags $125 Million To Expand T-Cell Program
By Alex Keown
This morning Cambridge, Mass.-based TCR2 said the proceeds from the funding round will support the expansion of multi-format TRuC platform that includes dual-target TRuC, immune cell enhancements and allogeneic technologies. T Cell receptors have typically relied on the antigen HLA in order to bind to the target. But some cancers have low downgraded HLA, which makes it a difficult target. TCR2 believes its program can change that. The platform reprograms the natural TCR complex to elicit rapid killing of cancer cells with long persistence and low cytokine release, the company said, referring to a safety issue that has reared its head multiple times with T-Cell gene therapy treatments.
TCR2 said its therapies have shown “superior activity” against several tumor targets during preclinical studies in comparison to CAR-T cells. It will take its lead program TC-210 into the clinic this year. TC-210, a solid tumor program, targets mesothelin, a tumor differentiation antigen that is highly expressed in several cancers including malignant mesothelioma, pancreatic, ovarian and lung adenocarcinoma.
TCR2 launched in December 2016 following a $44.5 million Series A financing round. The company was founded in 2015 by German immunologist Patrick Baeuerle, who formerly served as vice president, Research and General Manager, Amgen Research. Last year the company tapped former Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline researcher Alfonso Quintás Cardama as its chief medical officer. Cardama served as Global Clinical Leader of Novartis’s recently approved CAR-T treatment Kymriah.
The latest financing round was supported by 6 Dimensions Capital and Curative Ventures. New investors included Redmile Group, ArrowMark Partners, Hillhouse Capital Group, MiraeAsset Financial Group, Syno Capital, Haitong International Securities, Lucion Group, Sirona Capital, Alexandria Venture Investments and entities affiliated with Leerink Partners, the company said. All investors who initially backed the company two years ago also participated. Those companies include MPM Capital (MPM BioVentures 2014 and UBS Oncology Impact Fund by MPM Capital, F2 Ventures and Cathay Fortune Capital Investment.
TCR2 Chief Executive Officer Garry Menzel praised the support of the company’s investors as it moved into becoming a clinical-stage company. He said the investors supported the company because they recognize its “unique ability to target both solid and hematological cancers using a TCR approach that is not HLA dependent.” Menzel added that the diversity of its investor base is a reflection of the increasing globalization of cell therapy.
“TCR2 has made rapid progress since it emerged from stealth mode in December 2016. The demand we received for this financing is a testament to the caliber of the differentiated approach and world-class team we have assembled,” Ansbert Gadicke, TCR2’s chairman of the board and a co-founder of MPM Capital said in a statement.