Ready to harvest its PD-L1, Alphamab reloads with $60M to nurture the bispecific patch
Alphamab’s $100 million Series A last November for the oncology unit marked its first venture round in almost 10 years of existence. As it turned out, it was also a signal that founder and CEO Ting Xu was ready to bring in the cash flow he needs to complete the regulatory journey for his lead checkpoint inhibitor and dive into the bispecific project he’s envisioned for years.
The Suzhou-based company unveiled its latest financing on Tuesday, infusing $60 million into pipeline development and a potential commercial launch as well as a new R&D and manufacturing site. Hudson Bay Capital Management led the Series B and Adrian Cheng, the heir of a real estate empire in Hong Kong, participated alongside existing investors.
If approved, KN035 (envafolimab) would become the first PD-L1 agent to follow four PD-1 drugs on the market: Merck’s Keytruda, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo, Junshi’s Tuoyi and Innovent’s Tyvyt.
Xu — a veteran of Serono and Biogen — knows he’s getting into a competitive landscape set to become much more crowded, but hopes that the user-friendliness of KN035’s subcutaneous administration will make it attractive in the adjuvant/neoadjuvant setting and as a maintenance therapy. Bristol-Myers Squibb is also exploring a similar strategy through a pact with San Diego-based Halozyme.
Besides, KN035 is only the “I/O 1.0” part of his strategy; it’s “I/O 2.0” where he is eyeing the biggest breakthroughs.
After spending over six years fine-tuning its platform tech and manufacturing know-how, Alphamab is now well positioned to go all in on bispecifics with six assets in the pipeline, Xu said in a recent interview with China’s PharmCube.
Back then, charting a path for bispecifics before most investors had heard of the concept also meant finding alternative sources of money, such as developing early-stage biosimilars then selling them to other companies. It included a recombinant Factor VIII product, now developed by Nanjing CTTQ.
Two of Alphamab’s bispecifics are now in Phase II testing, including KN046 (PD-L1/CTLA4) and KN026 (HER2). For the latter, Xu is plotting three routes of attack: a head-to-head with Herceptin in frontline breast cancer; trials in patients with low expression or resistance to Herceptin; and a biomarker-driven approach, he told PharmCube.
The new round of cash will also fund an ongoing Phase II study of CD80-targeting immunomodulator KN019 for autoimmune conditions.