Bayern-based CatalYm, a biotechnology company developing immunotherapies for cancer patients, announced on Tuesday, November 22, that it has secured €50M in a Series C round of funding.
The round was co-led by new investors Brandon Capital and Jeito Capital, with participation from existing investors Forbion, Novartis Venture Fund, Vesalius Biocapital III, Bayern Kapital, BioGeneration Ventures, and Coparion.
CatalYm says it will use the fund to expand its visugromab Phase 2 development programme. The expansion follows convincing efficacy and durability results in advanced, last-line patients in Phase 1 and continued positive clinical responses in the ongoing GDFATHER-2 trial (GDF-15 Antibody-mediaTed Human Effector cell Relocation Phase 2).
First data read-outs from the Phase 2 clinical trial program are expected to emerge in early 2023.
“The success of our Series C financing, based on strong clinical data, is a further validation that visugromab is emerging as a new anti-cancer immunotherapeutic drug with the potential to transform the immuno-oncology landscape,” says Dr. Phil L’Huillier, Chief Executive Officer at CatalYm. “We deeply value the commitment of our new and existing investors, which will enable further clinical development, moving our lead program towards pivotal studies.”
As a part of the funding round, Dr. Jonathan Tobin, Partner at Brandon Capital, and Dr. Andreas Wallnoefer, Partner at Jeito Capital, will join CatalYm’s Board of Directors.
CatalYm: What you need to know
The German company has identified GDF-15 (Growth/Differentiation Factor-15) as a central regulator of the immune system in the tumour microenvironment.
Consequently, the company is pioneering the reversal of GDF-15-mediated immunosuppression to induce a potent antitumoral immune reaction in non-responsive tumours.
CatalYm’s aims to demonstrate the clinical proof-of-concept through its lead program, visugromab, in multiple solid tumour indications. This will expand the treatment horizon for current and future immunotherapies.
What is visugromab?
Visugromab (formerly known as CTL-002) is a humanised, monoclonal antibody designed to neutralise the tumour-produced Growth Differentiation Factor-15 (GDF-15).
“GDF-15 secretion by the tumour has been shown to prevent T cell migration into the tumour and suppresses T cell function and the adaptive immune response in the tumour microenvironment,” says the company.
As a result, the tumour evades the immune system and becomes resistant to the standard of care and current immunotherapy.
However, visugromab counteracts these immuno-suppressive mechanisms by neutralising GDF-15, enhancing the infiltration of immune cells into the tumour.
This improves the priming of T cells by dendritic cells and tumour killing by T cells and NK cells.
Brandon Capital is an Australasia life science venture capital firm. From early-stage seed investment to expansion capital, the VC supports life science companies from proof-of-concept to commercialisation.
“We are encouraged by the extremely exciting clinical data that CatalYm has generated in a short time, demonstrating its ability to advance a program focused on a new target and developing a targeted antibody capable of generating adaptive immune responses in patients with late-stage cancers. We look forward to supporting Phil and his team as they prepare to move visugromab into late-stage clinical development and further investigate GDF-15’s role in immunosuppression,” says Dr. Jonathan Tobin, Partner at Brandon Capital.
Jeito Capital is an investment company with a patient benefit-driven approach that finances and accelerates the development and growth of ground-breaking medical innovation. It has €534M under management and a rapidly growing portfolio of investments.
“Visugromab has shown the most promising results in enhancing the immune response to fight cancer in the first trials, resulting in several impressive responses in patients with advanced tumours and last-line treatments. The drug has great potential to improve patients’ lives and become part of cancer immunotherapy regimens given its important efficacy profile and good tolerability,” says Dr. Andreas Wallnoefer, Partner at Jeito Capital.