Venture

Genmab vets at low-profile Y-mAbs steer two MSK cancer drugs to the FDA after landing $50M from HBM

Almost exactly two years ago, a group of Genmab veterans formed a biotech company called Y-mAbs in New York, launching with a pair of clinical-stage cancer drugs snared from scientists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.

Today, just a few months after grabbing a breakthrough drug designation for the lead therapy in the licensing pact, Y-mAbs is back with a $50 million raise from HBM, a prominent biotech investor. And it’s aiming for a near-term FDA approval of burtomab and its other drug from MSK, naxitamab.

Nai-Kong Cheung

The lead drug is burtomab, born in the lab of MSK’s Nai-Kong Cheung, a Harvard med graduate who specializes in childhood cancers.

According to the biotech — which has been flying largely under the industry radar so far — the drug scored highly significant results from a study of patients suffering from refractory leptomeningeal metastasis from neuroblastoma. Patients in the study achieved an average survival rate of 58 months, compared to 4.7 months from a comparison group drawn from the German childhood cancer registry — rather than a comparison arm in the study, which would be more in line with gold standard development practices.

There’s a lot that’s a mystery about this company. The first $25 million was raised by an unnamed syndicate of investors. And it’s achieved virtually no public profile for the work it’s been doing, or its plans to file for approvals.

The biotech also won a rare pediatric disease label from the FDA for its lead drug, which would set it up for a priority review voucher in the event of an OK.

Founder Thomas Gad, president and chief BD executive, allied himself with:

  • Dr. Claus Møller, CEO of YmAbs and former chief operating officer, and co-founder of Genmab;
  • Bo Kruse, CFO of YmAbs, and former chief financial officer of Genmab, and;
  • Torben Lund-Hansen, SVP, head of technical operations, former SVP, head of manufacturing at Genmab.


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Biomanufacturing