Alchemab bags fresh round of investors for target-agnostic antibody development for Huntington's, Covid-19
With a “target-agnostic” approach to antibody development, the UK’s Alchemab has used lessons learned from patients with resistance to certain diseases to chase after conditions as far apart as Huntington’s and Covid-19. Now, investors are jumping on board the concept with an $86 million Series A.
The proceeds will go toward advancing the company’s target-agnostic drug discovery program, a release said. That approach looks at the antibody repertoires of patients who show resistance to typically destructive diseases regardless of genetic disposition.
In November, the company, whose scientists were led by CSO Jane Osbourn, a former AstraZeneca executive, joined a task force to develop an antibody cocktail for treating Covid-19. That task force claimed to accelerate the timeline for antibody discovery from 18 months to 7 months, a pathway that could be applied to future pandemics that arise. Alchemab was joined by IONTAS, LifeArc and Kymab, among other companies, according to Business Weekly.
In June, Osbourn told Business Weekly that there was no rush to get to Series A and said it would be executed “when the time is right” as the company had its sights set on global expansion. This funding is a step in that direction.
“Our ambition is to be one of the best…by a having really unique approach to identifying new targets and drugging them,” head of business Olivia Cavlan told Endpoints. “At the moment we have an incredibly talented team, we’ve got individuals absolutely at the top of their field and a fabulous culture, but the way that you stay on top of your game is by bringing new people in, being international and understanding what is going on globally, so that’s what we need to do.”
Osbourn has an extensive background in phenotypic drug discovery, and over the last couple of years, the innovations surrounding bulk BCR-RNA sequencing combined with Alchemab’s analytical and data management tools have been able to create a method of drug discovery that Cavlan says is quite different.
The company also collaborates extensively with academics and other companies. The company’s approach has support from Oxford University, Johns Hopkins University and Mount Sinai Hospital. Its work is focused on cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
Alchemab boasts a team of about 30 people that is unusually more than 50% women, which Cavlan says plays an important role in their success.
“It’s a team that’s learning as we go, willing to fail, but everyone working at the absolute top of their game,” she said.
Boston-based RA Capital Management led the round with involvement from Lightstone Ventures, Data Collective VC, DHVC, SV Health Investors and the Dementia Discovery Fund.
On March 16, the company announced that it was awarded a grant from Innovate UK to support antibody therapy for Huntington’s disease, in collaboration with Medicines Discovery Catapult. Before receiving the funding, scientists reported having identified a panel of antibodies with disease-modifying potential. With that money, Alchemab will conduct the first in-human studies of the treatment over the next 18 months. If successful, a treatment that slows or halts disease progression could be the result.
That study featured collaboration from the CDHI, which Cavlan said was crucial in identifying patients that show resiliency to the disease.