Neophore Limited, a neoantigen immune-oncology company, is generating next-generation, immuno-oncology therapeutics to improve clinical outcomes for cancer patients made the announcement today (February 1).
The extension of £9.6 million ($12.2 million) had participation from its existing syndicate, CPF managed by Sixth Element Capital, Claris Ventures, Astellas Venture Management, 3B Future Health Fund, 2investAG, and the addition of three new investors – NEVA SGR (the venture capital arm of Intesa Sanpaolo banking group), LIFTT (the venture capital focused on deep-tech chaired by Stefano Buono) and Simon Fiduciaria (the fiduciary company of Ersel Group). This extension brings the total raised in Series B financing to £31.1 million ($39.5 million).
Dr Matthew Baker, chief executive officer of NeoPhore, said: “NeoPhore has made excellent progress throughout 2023. With the support of our committed and new investors, along with our research collaborations with academic institutions that are in place, we remain on track to deliver a candidate drug for our lead PMS2 program by early 2025.”
MMR deficient cells may lead to cancer
NeoPhore’s first-in-class MMR inhibitors induce neoantigen expression and increase immunogenicity in solid tumours that become exquisitely sensitive to immunotherapy. MMR describes cells that have mutations (changes) in certain genes that are involved in correcting mistakes made when DNA is copied in a cell. Mismatch repair (MMR) deficient cells usually have many DNA mutations, which may lead to cancer.
The company says that 2023 was a great year of progress. At AACR-NCI-EORTC in Boston in October, the first disclosure of lead compound NP1867 was presented. This demonstrated that NP1867 functionally inhibits MMR in cells and elicits COSMIC mutational signatures consistent with MMR-deficient patient samples.
The additional Series B funding will be used to progress NeoPhore’s lead oral program, through early pre-clinical development.
Small molecule inhibitors
Dr Robert James, chairman of NeoPhore, said: “Over the past years NeoPhore has made tremendous strides in showing that it is possible to target the MMR pathway with small molecule inhibitors. The recent data the Company has generated and presented at an international conference leads us to believe that NeoPhore’s approach may be profoundly important.
“We are pleased to welcome three new Italian-based investors to our syndicate as well as further funding from existing investors. Their commitment reflects the potential value of NeoPhore’s approach that exploits the dynamics of cancer neoantigen evolution, through the discovery and design of effective, well-tolerated medicines that will become a key part of the next generation of cancer immunotherapies. We are very excited about the next stage in the life of the Company.”
The company says treatment with MMR inhibitors in combination with CPI immunotherapies could clearly provide clinical benefit by reawakening the patients’ anti-tumour immune response by effectively turning immunologically ‘cold’ tumours ‘hot’.