ADC Therapeutics beefs up monster $200M round with fresh $76M haul
Days after Roche secured accelerated approval for its antibody-drug conjugate, Lausanne, Switzerland-based ADC Therapeutics has clinched another $76 million to its already hefty $200 million round of financing unveiled in 2017.
The fresh injection brings ADC’s venture haul to $531 million.
The funds will set the oncology company up with “a strong balance sheet to fund preparations for a potential Biologic License Application (BLA) for ADCT-402 (loncastuximab tesirine) in relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) in the second half of 2020, as well as preparations for a pivotal Phase II trial of ADCT-301 (camidanlumab tesirine) in Hodgkin lymphoma based on our recent end of Phase I meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” said ADC chief Chris Martin, in a statement on Wednesday.
Antibody-drug conjugates are a class of therapeutics in which a cancer-killing toxin is attached to a specific antibody using a biodegradable linker. They are designed to minimize the effects of the chemotherapy on healthy cells while maximizing tumor cell death, which is why the technology is sometimes likened to a trojan horse as it is engineered to go unnoticed, delivering chemotherapies to cells expressing the antigen target.
Unlike the first generation of antibody-drug conjugates that were steered to the market by Seattle Genetics and others, ADC Therapeutics is using pyrrolobenzodiazepine-based warheads that it suspects will be more potent and mitigate drug resistance, even in hard-to-treat tumors.
Martin served as one of the original board members at ADC back in 2011 when the biotech was launched. In 2013, he engineered the sale of UK’s Spirogen — where he was CEO — to AstraZeneca in a $440 million deal, which the British drugmaker paired with a $20 million investment in ADC. ADC and Spirogen also share the pyrrolobenzodiazepine-based warhead technology.
ADC’s two lead programs (402 and 301) first reported positive early-stage data in 2016, and the company has since updated its data. The company’s researchers, led by CMO Jay Feingold — former VP of cancer research at Wyeth — presented updated Phase I data at American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting on the 402 program, which takes aim at a target favored by the CAR-T crowd: CD19. In 139 evaluable patients with relapsed or refractory DLBCL, the scientists registered an overall response rate (ORR) was 43.3% — comprising 23.6% complete responses and 19.7% partial responses.
ADC also published fresh phase I data on its experimental 301 drug at ASH. In 113 patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, who have failed multiple lines of therapy, researchers documented an ORR of 86.5%, including a lofty 43% complete response rate.
The pivotal (Phase II) 402 DLBCL trial is expected to readout in the third quarter of 2019 — and a pivotal (Phase II) 301 study in Hodgkin lymphoma patients is expected to kick off in the coming months. Last year, the company abandoned an early-stage study in patients with HER2-positive cancers evaluating its drug, ADCT-502, after it failed to impress.
The company — which has a workforce of 120 and operations in London, New Jersey and San Francisco — an IPO is also on the cards, Martin told Endpoints News.