Roswell Park spinout raises $35M from Chinese investors to pursue one-two punch for adoptive T cell therapy

Amid buzzing reports out of ASH tracking various immunotherapies’ success in treating blood cancers, a Buffalo-based biotech has quietly bagged its first venture round to advance its adoptive T cell therapy for multiple myeloma into the clinic.

Kunle Odunsi

Tactiva Therapeutics is a spinout of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center launched in 2017. Harnessing a special class of CD4 T cells — which are commonly seen to be mere helpers to anti-tumor CD8 T cells — the founders developed a way to engineer hematopoietic stem cells to express both T cell receptors “in a way that has never been tried before” for a more long-lasting combined effect, according to CMO Kunle Odunsi.

A trio of investors from China played dominant roles in the Series A, led by Panacea Ventures with participation from Vi Ventures and Efung Ventures.

Matthew Colpoys

“This investment will allow us to aggressively pursue our clinical development program, and demonstrate the efficacy of our dual TCR approach,” Tactiva CEO Matthew Colpoys said in a statement.

Aside from multiple myeloma, Tactiva believes its dual enhanced adoptive cell therapy, or DEACT, platform — one approach under the large adoptive cell transfer umbrella, which also covers CAR-T as well as the tumor infiltrating lymphocytes championed by Steve Rosenberg — may also be effective in several solid tumors expressing an antigen called NY-ESO-1.

“An initial payload of CD8 cells breaks down the tumor, and the HSC-derived CD4 cleans up the remaining cells and acts as protection against the recurrence of any cancer cells expressing NY-ESO-1,” the company writes.

With the new funding, Tactiva projects adding 45 new employees in Buffalo.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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