TCR-based therapies are an emerging class of drugs, however, when developing therapies, the challenge is to identify highly potent TCRs with no relevant off-target activity as well as to ensure durable anti-tumour responses, including potent activation of effector functions.
Founded in 2021 as a spinoff from ETH Zurich, Engimmune uses cutting-edge technologies to engineer highly potent and specific TCR-based therapies for cancer treatment. By combining genome editing, functional screening, deep sequencing and machine learning, Engimmune addresses major efficacy and safety challenges that currently limit the full potential of TCR-T cell and soluble TCR therapies. Engimmune's lead products are focused on oncology, with the potential to expand to autoimmune diseases in the future.
The startup was incubated and financed through BaseLaunch during the initial stages. To support further development, the biotech company has obtained further backing from Pureos Bioventures, a Swiss venture capital fund investing in innovative drug development companies and Novo Seeds, the early-stage investment and company creation team of Novo Holdings which led its CHF 15.5 million seed round. The proceeds will be used to further build Engimmune's pipeline, expand the research team in Switzerland and build a foothold in Denmark, with a focus on GMP-certified manufacturing, clinical development, and regulatory affairs.
“We have been following the company since inception, playing a key role in its founding, and were impressed with the progress achieved in such a short period of time. We are very glad to co-lead and support Engimmune and we believe its state-of-the-art technologies offer great promise to discover and develop safer, more potent and affordable TCR-T cell therapies, an increasingly important tool in the fight against cancer,” said Dominik Escher, Managing Partner at Pureos Bioventures.
A Chairman and new members of the board
In line with the financing round, the Company announced the appointment of TCR pioneer and industry veteran Bent Jakobsen as Chairman of the Board. Former chief scientist and co-founder of Immunocore, a soluble TCR therapeutics company, and Adaptimmune, an adoptive TCR-T cell therapy company, Jakobsen is a global expert in the field of T cell immunology. As part of the transaction, Dominik Escher and Jørgen Søberg Petersen join as Board Directors, and Ximing Ding and João Ribas join as Observers.
“Anchored around unique and powerful technology platforms, we want Engimmune to tap into the top biotech hubs to attract the best scientists, developers and investors to build a well-differentiated company with the potential to disrupt solid tumour therapy," comments Jørgen Søberg Petersen, Partner at Novo Holdings.