The Netherlands-based Tagworks Pharmaceuticals, a company that claims to be a pioneer of Click-to-Release chemistry to deliver effective and safer systemic therapies, announced on Thursday, June 22, that it has raised $65M (approximately €59.53M) in a Series A round of funding.
Systemic therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on how an individual’s personal connections, behaviour patterns, and life choices are intertwined with the challenges they experience in their lives.
Everything you need to know about Tagworks Pharmaceuticals
Founded in 2011 by Raffaella Rossin and Marc Robillard, Tagworks is a precision medicine firm that is utilising its technological platform covered by a large patent portfolio to produce a new standard of care for patients suffering from serious illnesses such as cancer.
The company claims to create a pipeline of therapies that are click-cleavable and has facilities in the US and the Netherlands.
TGW101, Tagworks’ lead programme, is an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) that targets TAG72, a pan-carcinoma target with clinical validation that has so far eluded conventional ADC treatments.
With the use of a trigger molecule and an in vivo click reaction, Tagworks’ technology enables regulated medication delivery.
When used with ADCs, the triggered on-target release broadens the scope to non-internalising targets, enabling the destruction of tumours with diverse target expression with a strong bystander impact.
The technology also enables radiopharmaceuticals to be off-target deactivated and immunomodulators to be activated on-target, increasing their therapeutic index and safety.
Marc Robillard, PhD, started and headed the team working on Tagworks’ in vivo chemistry inside Philips Healthcare, leading to its spinout as Tagworks, where the click-to-release technique and additional in vivo click-mediated therapeutic applications were further developed.
Currently, the company’s technology is compatible with small molecules, peptides, and larger biomolecules, such as antibodies and fragments, and covers a wide range of toxin and immunomodulator classes.
Investors in this round
The funding was led by Ysios Capital and Gilde Healthcare with participation from Novartis Venture Fund, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and Lightstone Ventures. Existing investors Meneldor and Oost NL also participated.
The deal also saw Thomas Harth (Ysios Capital), Edwin de Graaf (Gilde Healthcare), Marianne Uteng, PhD (Novartis Venture Fund), Michele Park, PhD (NEA), and Christina Isacson, PhD (Lightstone Ventures) join the Board of Directors.
Chris Martin, DPhil, Tagworks’ Chairman of the Board, says, “I am very pleased to join the Tagworks Board as Chair and to support and guide the team in working to rapidly move their lead ADC programme into clinical development.”
“ADCs have long held great promise as powerful, highly targeted cancer therapies, and Tagworks’ platform represents an opportunity to expand both the therapeutic index and reach of these therapies to additional tumour types, and to make a truly transformative impact on cancer patients not served by existing therapies,” he adds.
Tagworks Pharmaceuticals says it will use the funds for the advancement of TGW101, the company’s lead click-cleavable ADC programme, towards initial clinical proof-of-concept, and in advancing its broader pipeline, currently focused on oncology.
The funds will also help advance Tagworks’ Click-to-Release platform.
Co-founder Marc Robillard says, “Our Click-to-Release approach is poised to change the standard of care for patients with solid tumours. The limitation of today’s conventional ADCs is that they rely on suitable internalising targets, which are not necessarily expressed by every cancer type and cancer cell.”
“Our ADC therapy, however, does not depend on internalising targets as it is based on chemically controlled release of the payload in the tumours micro-environment, thereby killing heterogeneous tumours where not every cancer cell expresses the target.”
“Accordingly, Tagworks has the potential to enhance efficacy in a safe manner through controlled payload release, and so, boost the therapeutic index. Importantly, our unique approach to targeting non-internalising receptors also offers the opportunity to address a whole new cancer target landscape,” adds Robillard.
“This financing is an important step in unlocking the wide range of potential applications for Click-to-Release technology, to treat cancer types not addressed by current therapies,” adds Robillard.