There are nine antibody-drug conjugates (ADC) approved by the FDA; however, many of them cannot be dosed high enough to elicit efficacy. This is due to systemic toxicity often caused by linker instability or heterogeneous distributions of the payload, as expressed by Dominik Escher, Managing Partner at Pureos. Araris Biotech, a spin-off company from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and ETH Zurich addresses these limitations with its a novel antibody-drug conjugate-linker technology. Araris’ innovative platform allows for the attachment of any payload to ‘off the shelf’ antibodies without the need of prior antibody engineering in one-step. The resulting ADCs have a well-defined drug-to-antibody ratio, are stable and monomeric. All these favourable properties contribute to the high efficacy, stability and low level of toxicity observed so far.
The CHF 15.2 million investment puts Araris Biotech in an excellent position to advance its antibody-drug conjugates towards the clinic. Alongside the lead investor, Pureos Bioventures are the new investors 4BIO Capital and btov Partners as well as existing ones Redalpine, VI Partners and Schroder Adveq. The proceeds will be used to nominate a clinical candidate and advance Araris’ lead program into preclinical and clinical development. The new funds will also support the development of a broad proprietary pipeline of ADC compounds.
Philipp Spycher, CEO and co-founder of Araris, said, “We see this funding as strong validation of our company, lead programs and the Araris ADC-linker platform. We’re focused on using our unique linker technology, that allows development of ADCs without engineering the native antibody, to design better medicines for cancer. This capital will allow us to advance our lead program to the next stage of development and progress our preclinical pipeline towards the clinic. We are also pleased to further strengthen our investor base with such a distinguished group of investors, all of whom have a proven track record of supporting successful emerging companies.”
New board members
In line with the round, Araris has strengthened its board of directors with the addition of Dominik Escher, Dmitry ‘Dima’ Kuzmin, Michael Sidler and Arnd Kaltofen.
Dragan Grabulovski, co-founder and founding chairman of Araris says, “The quality of the investors reflects the quality of the science, the product candidates and the entire team at Araris Biotech. The experience and knowledge of our new board members of the sector will be key to ensuring Araris’ continued success.”
Antibody drug conjugates
Antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) are built by attaching a small molecule drug or another therapeutic agent to an antibody, with either a permanent or a labile linker. The antibody targets a specific antigen only found on target cells. After the antibody has docked onto the target cell the drug linked to it will destroy it.
(Press release / RAN)
Picture: Philipp Spycher (left), Dragan Garbulovski