TCR upstart gets fresh funding as it looks to charge toward the clinic
While several companies have been finding success in the TCR-T cell therapy space — with Intellia having its treatment accepted by the FDA last year — another company is using machine learning to get in on the action and find a candidate to bring toward the clinic.
ImmunoScape, a biotech based in Singapore and California, has raised $14 million in a fresh round of financing. The company itself was founded in 2016 as a spinout from the Singapore-based Agency for Science, Technology and Research, setting up its US operations in San Diego in 2020.
In an interview with Endpoints News, ImmunoScape CEO Choon-Peng Ng said the upstart is focused on the discovery and eventual development of TCR-T cell therapies in the oncology space, with a focus on solid tumors. ImmunoScape uses a machine learning-based technology platform that analyzes data from its lab to investigate and eventually develop TCR-T cell therapies.
While the company has not unveiled the details of its therapies just yet, Ng noted that it does have some targets identified and is centering on treatments related to breast cancer, prostate and lung cancer. He said that ImmunoScape will choose its assets and insert them into the pipeline by the end of the year, with the biotech planning to have an IND filed by 2024.
The $14 million raise will be going toward expediting development efforts and getting a candidate closer to the clinic. To date, ImmunoScape has managed to raise $41 million in total through other fundraising efforts, including $14 million last year. Ng said that he would not rule out any future funding, and while he does recognize that the IPO can be tough to navigate currently, he said that the company will be keeping its eye on the market.
As for the immediate future, Peng Ng told Endpoints that, apart from pursuing its IND, they will also be hoping to partner with other groups and companies that may have an interest to develop its assets.
“At the end of the day, (it’s) fulfilling the mission in bringing as many of these novel therapeutics to the clinic. And we recognize that we are a small team, and we want to do the best we can for what we can manage,” he said.
Ng also noted that ImmunoScape is separating itself from the pack due to its machine learning technology that can discover targets at scale and screen hundreds of epitopes. Also, by discovering naturally occurring TCR antigens, Ng believes that this will give the company’s therapies a more positive safety profile.
Anzu Partners led the round, with Amgen Ventures and Singapore-based EDBI also participating.