Startups

MPM kicks off a new I/O player with $44.5M round and a new understanding of the T cell receptor

After running in stealth mode for more than a year gaining better understanding of the complex structure of subunits involved in the T cell receptor, TCR² has now jumped into view in Cambridge, MA with a $44.5 million startup round and some big plans to make some original progress in immuno-oncology.

Garry Menzel, the former COO at Regulus, has taken charge as the new CEO. He’s teaming up with ex-Merck KGaA scientist Robert Hofmeister, who’s credited with a senior role in developing that company’s PD-L1 checkpoint, and Patrick Baeuerle, the former CSO at Micromet.

The big idea here is that they can start to leverage their understanding of the T cell receptor structure to make a better cell therapy to fight cancer, breaking down barriers that have limited efficacy as well as extending their range into solid tumors.

“The T cell receptor with its six distinct subunits is arguably the most complex receptor found in the human body. Growing evidence suggests that all TCR subunits interact with each other in a unique and critical way to determine the strength, duration and quality of response inside T cells. Because the TCR2 TRuC variants are designed to become an integral part of the TCR complex, TRuC-engineered T cells can take advantage of the full signal transduction power of the TCR complex, which is likely needed to improve efficacy of T cell therapies in solid tumors,” said Dr. Baeuerle.

MPM Capital provided the seed funding needed to get the company started in 2015, and Baeurle is credited as a co-founder. MPM and F2 Ventures provided the A round together.


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