The biotech craze hits the Nordics, driving a record-high $62M Series A for a Copenhagen-based ADC player
With the biotech boom in the US in full swing, more money than ever is flowing into the industry — but that gusher hasn’t fully translated across the pond. Now, a Danish biotech with some big-name backers has scored a record-high early fundraising round. Is it a one-off or a sign of things to come?
Copenhagen-based ADCendo has bagged a $62 million Series A round — the largest ever of its kind for a Danish biotech — to advance its pipeline of antibody-drug conjugates targeting uPARAP, a collagen scavenger receptor on some tumor cells, the company said Thursday.
The round was co-led by Novo Seeds, Novo Holdings’ early stage investment arm, and Ysios Capital with participation from RA Capital Management, HealthCap and Gilde Healthcare.
The biotech is looking to build a pipeline of ADCS around uPARAP, which plays a role in tumor infiltration and could offer a novel pathway to target hard-to-crack tumors. ADCendo thinks ADCs could be used to target uPARAP and drive a “drug internalization pump” to pull the conjugated therapies into the tumor’s microenvironment.
The protein is highly expressed in a range of tumor types, some with high unmet need, including soft tissue sarcoma, glioblastoma multiforme, triple-negative breast cancers, leukemia and osteosarcoma. It could also play a meaningful role in targeting stromal cells in several high-prevalence cancers with substantial stromal tissue content, such as prostate, breast and pancreatic cancer.
“Adcendo is taking the ADC approach to the next level by focusing on targets that are professional internalizers and have exquisite tumor selectivity,” Joël Jean-Mairet, Ysios Capital managing partner, said in a statement.
Novo Seeds has been an early backer for ADCendo since 2017, and the company was incubated in 2018 at the BioInnovation Institute in Copenhagen. As part of the financing, Novo Seeds principal Jeroen Bakker will join the company’s board.
“One of our ambitions at Novo Seeds is to leverage and nurture the untapped innovation in the Nordic region,” Bakker said in a statement. “We are proud to have been involved with ADCendo since its early days and are very impressed with the progress achieved to date.”
The Nordics are, of course, not a stranger to pharmaceutical industry, providing the fertile ground for both Novo Nordisk and AstraZeneca. But as the biotech boom rolls at a frenzied pace in the US, ADCendo’s international syndicate of investors may indicate that venture funds are taking a more global approach to finding the next big thing in therapeutics.
Time will tell whether ADCendo was worth that bet.