Synnovation’s $102m round heads latest biotech financings

3D Animation Production Company

Momentum seems to be building behind biotech financings as the first month of 2023 draws to a close, with a respectable raise for cancer start-up Synnovation Therapeutics and Adicet Bio, Calluna Pharma, Accent Therapeutics, GenEdit and IMU Bio also in on the action.

Wilmington, Delaware-based Synnovation, a specialist in small-molecule therapeutics for cancer, has emerged from the shadows with a $102 million first-round financing led by Third Rock Ventures with participation from Nextech, Lilly Asia Ventures, Sirona Capital and Cormorant Asset Management.

The company’s lead programme, SNV1521, is a selective PARP1 inhibitor that has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the central nervous system, making it a potential therapy for cancers that have spread to the brain. It is due to start phase 1 in the next couple of months.

Following after is SNV4818, which targets the PI3K-alpha pathway, and a third candidate with an undisclosed target, which should both enter the clinic in the next year or so. While there are already multiple PARP and PI3K-alpha inhibitors on the market, Synnovation reckons its medicinal chemistry expertise has identified potential best-in-class candidates. The company is led by former Incyte executives Wenqing Yao, Liangxing Wu, Phillip Liu, and Kevin O’Hayer.

Adicet Bio has closed a $98 million public follow-on offering, raising funds that will be used for the development of its off-the-shelf T cell therapies for autoimmune diseases and cancer led by ADI-001, a gamma delta CAR-T therapy being developed as a potential treatment for relapsed or refractory B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

ADI-001 has shown early efficacy and safety in heavily pretreated aggressive NHL patients in initial phase 1 testing, earning it a fast-track designation from the FDA, and is scheduled to start clinical development in autoimmune diseases in the second quarter of this year. Redwood City and Boston-based Adicet Bio, meanwhile, is also planning to file for FDA approval to start trials of its second candidate, ADI-270 for renal cell carcinoma, in the next few months.

Dutch-Norwegian start-up Calluna Pharma was born from a merger between Oxitope Pharma and Arxx Therapeutics. It starts its new life armed with a €75 million ($81 million) first-round financing that will be used to advance its drug discovery and development efforts in the area of immunological diseases. The Series A was led by Forbion, with participation from Norwegian investors Sarsia, p53, and Investinor.

Calluna’s most advanced programmes are CAL101, an anti-S100A4 antibody in phase 1 with potential to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, chronic kidney disease, systematic sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and severe asthma, and CAL102, a preclinical-stage antibody targeting oxidised phospholipids thought to play a role in chronic inflammatory and fibrotic diseases.

RNA specialist Accent Therapeutics has continued a healthy series of funding rounds, raising $75 million in a Series C that was led by Mirae Asset Capital Life Science and supported by Bristol Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson’s venture capital arm, as well as existing investors including AbbVie Ventures. It comes after first- and second-round financings that brought in $40 million and $63 million, respectively, as well as a partnership with AstraZeneca signed in 2020 that brought in $55 million in upfront payments.

Lexington, Massachusetts-based Accent is developing small-molecule drugs based on its RNA-modifying protein (RMP) platform, and its pipeline is led by a DHX9 inhibitor with potential as a treatment for breast, ovarian colorectal, endometrial, and gastric cancers, and a KIF18A inhibitor that it plans to develop for ovarian and triple-negative breast cancer and other hard-to-treat solid tumours. The cash will be used to start clinical trial programmes for the two candidates by early 2025.

GenEdit has had a busy week, raising $24 million in an extension to its first-round financing and scoring a new partnership with Roche’s Genentech division – focused on autoimmune disorders – that includes $15 million upfront and up to $629 million in milestones. The gene-editing specialist brought in $26 million from the initial Series A in 2021, with backing from Eli Lilly, and in the interim, formed a collaboration with Sarepta to develop therapies for neuromuscular diseases, which included $57 million in near-term payments.

The South San Francisco biotech’s polymer nanoparticle-based delivery technology is being positioned as an alternative to viruses and lipid nanoparticles for the delivery of gene-editing drugs. The new Series A1 round featured existing investors Eli Lilly, Sequoia Capital, Korea Investment Partners, Woori Venture Partners, DAYLI Partners, KB Investment, IMM Investment and TIMEFOLIO Asset Management, along with new backers KDB Silicon Valley, Mirae Asset Venture Investment, ACVC, Pathway Partners, LoftyRock Investment, Terra VC, K2 Investment, Dong-A ST, KIMCO and Huons.

London, UK-based IMU Biosciences has closed a £11.5 million ($14.6 million) first round, led by VC Molten Ventures, that will be used to develop CytAtlas, an artificial intelligence-powered map of the immune system in health and disease that can be used to develop new diagnostics and drug therapies.

The platform combines an AI with immunophenotyping of blood samples and will also enable patients to be matched with therapy that is most likely to be effective and allow real-time immune monitoring, according to the company. LifeX Ventures contributed to the round along with other individual investors.

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