Startups, Venture

Armed antibody player ADC lands a $105M mega-round to back pipeline construction

Chris Martin, ADC Therapeutics

Chris Martin, ADC Therapeutics

Chris Martin’s ADC Therapeutics has roped in a $105 million mega-round to back his antibody-drug conjugate startup ADC Therapeutics, based in Lausanne, Switzerland. Founding investor Auven Therapeutics came back in for the second fundraising, along with the Wild Family Office and pharma giant AstraZeneca, which has been partnered with the biotech.

The biotech has now raised $255 million for its work, with plans to launch an IPO when the timing is right. And some of this new money is being reserved to build out manufacturing operations.

While antibody-drug conjugates have been around for years, developing precisely aimed weapons that can drop a powerful payload on target, ADC has helped distinguish itself with its pyrrolobenzodiazepine warheads, which are touted as powerfully destructive to cancer cells.

“The bottom line is that we’ve taken 2 drugs into 4 clinical trials and those trials have done well,” Martin tells me. And now that Seattle Genetics as well as AbbVie’s newly acquired Stemcentryx team (acquired in a jaw-dropping $5.8 billion buyout) have moved straight from Phase Ib into registrational studies with ADCs, the CEO believes that his company can do the same thing. This new round not only expands the pipeline, it also allows for the launch of a couple of pivotal studies.

The biotech may be based in Lausanne, but it’s thoroughly global. ADC has a manufacturing arm in the San Francisco area. It has preclinical R&D in London and the clinical-stage team is in New Jersey. Right now 42 people are on staff, which Martin says will now scale up to the high 50s in short order.

Martin helped arrange the sale of UK-based Spirogen to AstraZeneca in 2013, and then joined the pharma company for 18 months before leaping back into biotech and joining the Spirogen spinoff as CEO.

As of now, ADC has two therapies — ADCT-301 and ADCT-402 — in four studies for lymphoma and leukemia. Two more are slated for the clinic in coming months and ADC expects to have a pipeline with 7 therapies in human studies before mid-2018.

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