TORL rakes in $158m for ADCs, and other bio financings

TORL rakes in $158m for ADCs, and other bio financings
Towfiqu barbhuiya

Our regular round-up of financings in the biotech sector features rounds for TORL BioTherapeutics, Nvelop Therapeutics, D3 Bio, and Century Therapeutics.

Antibody-drug conjugate specialist TORL has raised $158 million in a Series B2 financing, led by Deep Track Capital, bolstering its cash reserves as it tries to advance a raft of ADC candidates through clinical testing.

The Los Angeles, California-based biotech’s lead candidate is TORL-1-23, an ADC targeting claudin 6 (CLDN6) that has cleared a phase 1 trial and is en route to a phase 2 study in CLDN6-positive, platinum-resistant ovarian cancer later this year. Following after is TORL-2-307, a CLDN18.2 candidate in early-stage clinical testing in solid tumours, plus two other ADCs targeting CDH17 and DLK1.

A long list of prior investors, including Bristol-Myers Squibb, pitched in again, while new backers included RA Capital Management, Perceptive Advisors, and Avidity Partners. The new round takes the total raised by TORL to $350 million since it was first formed in 2019.

Nvelop was one of two biotechs that emerged this week with first-round financings of $100 million alongside Seaport Therapeutics (see our article on the latter here).

The Cambridge, Massachusetts start-up was formed in 2022 to commercialise the development of programmable, non-viral vehicles for the in vivo delivery of gene-modifying therapeutics, based on technology discovered at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital by co-founders David Liu and Keith Joung. The aim is to overcome limitations in current approaches by improving delivery efficiency and tissue specificity, extending the range of drug ‘payloads’ that can be delivered, and improving safety.

The company is led by chief executive Jeff Walsh and chief scientific officer Melissa Bonner, both formerly at bluebird bio. Investors in the round included Newpath Partners, Atlas Venture, F-Prime Capital, and 5AM Ventures, with participation from GV and ARCH Venture Partners.

China’s D3 Bio drew in $62 million in a first-round financing – led by Medicxi, which contributed $40 million to the pot – that will be used for its pipeline of medicines in oncology and immunology.

Led by former AstraZeneca executive George Chen, Shanghai-based D3 Bio’s lead programme is D3S-001, billed as a potential best-in-class KRAS G12C inhibitor, which is in phase 2 trials with potential in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), colorectal cancer, and pancreatic cancer. Currently, Amgen’s Lumakras (sotorasib) and Bristol-Myers Squibb/Mirati’s Krazati (adagrasib) are the only two approved KRAS G12C inhibitors, although several others are in clinical development.

The start-up also has two other clinical candidates, ERK1/2 kinase inhibitor D3S-002 and HER2×CD47 bispecific antibody D3L-000, in phase 1 development. The company has raised $250 million to date.

Finally, it was a productive week for Philadelphia’s Century, which closed a $60 million private placement and bolstered its position in off-the-shelf stem cell therapies with the acquisition of Clade Therapeutics for $35 million upfront in cash and shares and another $10 million in a potential future milestone.

The Nasdaq-listed company said the private placement, led by Bain Capital will extend its cash runway into 2026 as it works on its stem cell-derived allogeneic natural killer (NK) cell therapy CNTY-101, currently in clinical trials for autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and B-cell cancers.

Buying Clade adds a pipeline of three preclinical-stage cell-based therapies for autoimmune and solid tumour indications.