Novartis-partnered Eureka Raises Substantial Capital For Immuno-Oncology Drug Research

Novartis-partnered Eureka Raises Substantial Capital For Immuno-Oncology Drug Research

shutterstock_10136935Novartis and CA-based Eureka Therapeutics have landed a $21 million investment round led by Beijing-based Yuan Capital.

Eureka has been developing innovative antibody cancer therapies that are engineered to mimic the functions of a T cell receptor. By recognizing intracellular protein fragments via the MHC-peptide complex, a new type of immunotherapy can be created, where these antibodies can efficiently enter a cancer cell and recognize cancer-associated proteins, mobilizing the immune system to mount a deadly response against the cancer cell.

The majority of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies can only target extracellular proteins (proteins anchored at the cell surface). However, approximately 90% of cancer-specific targets are actually intracellular (inside the cell) proteins. For this reason, these specific proteins have so far been considered “undruggable” by conventional monoclonal antibody drug approaches.

Because of the capacity of these modified antibodies, called CAR-T, to target intracellular proteins, they are emerging as a big field in cancer research and development, with Eureka developing close partnerships with the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, one of the leaders in this field.

Moreover, the company also has close connections with Chinese investors as well as Novartis, who this year became responsible for the development and commercialization rights to ESK1, a preclinical human IgG1 T-cell receptor mimic monoclonal antibody targeted at WT1, a protein found in hematopoietic and solid tumor cells. This experimental that has been developed by researchers both at Eureka and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

“This new funding will allow us to expand and advance our drug pipeline, as well as explore the synergistic effects of our drug candidates with other immunotherapies and immune modulators. This moves us closer to our goal of providing cancer patients with safer and more effective treatments through novel immunotherapies.We are pleased to have the continued confidence and support of our existing investors, and we welcome our new investors,” Cheng Liu, PhD, President and CEO of Eureka Therapeutics, said in a company’s press release.