Takeda joins microbiome-focused biotech partner's $52.6M raise as it pursues more in-house cancer work
A high-profile collaboration with Takeda back in late 2018 bestowed upon Enterome some pharma validation and significant cash — $50 million upfront and another $15 million in R&D cost offset — to fund its microbiome platforms. It also represented the last of such licensing deals you’ll likely see from the French biotech in a while.
In the first financing since 2017, Enterome has topped up its reserves to $52.6 million (€46.3 million), most of which is going to the first-in-human studies of its cancer immunotherapy in recurrent glioblastoma and adrenal tumors.
“It’s good to make deals, but it’s taking time to the management to handle the collaboration after all,” CEO Pierre Belichard told Endpoints News. “And it was about time for us to fully invest into our value creation for our shareholders by probably decreasing the number of deals and more developing our internal pipeline.”
Unlike some of the other microbiome players Takeda — and Enterome’s other past partners such as Bristol Myers Squibb and J&J, for that matter — has enlisted, Enterome doesn’t directly leverage bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract as drugs. Rather, it has over the years amassed a database of all the proteins and peptides secreted by the bacteria from which to mine potential treatments for diseases ranging from inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease to cancer.
That means essentially seeing bacteria as a provider of drugs or, in the case of its OncoMimic platform, bacterial antigens similar to tumor-associated antigens that can induce a specific immune response.
While protected in the GI tract, these microbiome-derived peptide antigens are identifiable by their epitopes to memory T cells such that once they are spotted in the blood, they activate a rapid immune attack, according to the CEO.
“What we’re developing is a way to induce a never-seen-before human response which is directed first towards the bacterial epitope, but in turn against the tumor and we hopefully will see in the clinic infiltration of the brain tumor or the adrenal tumor,” Belichard said.
EO2401, the lead asset which combines three of these OncoMimic antigens, is being tested in both the US and Europe.
A second candidate, EO2463, is scheduled to enter the clinic in 2021 for B-cell malignancies such as lymphomas and leukemias. Meanwhile, Enterome is pushing an unpartnered hormone mimetic designed to induce secretion of IL-10 to treat IBD.
Enterome is also assisting Takeda in the proof-of-concept Crohn’s disease trial for the FimH blocker sibofimloc.
Takeda participated in the Series E alongside SymBiosis, a microbiome-focused fund, and existing investors Seventure, Health for Life Capital, Principia, Omnes Capital and Nestlé Health Science. Part of the funds comes from a loan provided by the European Investment Bank.