Triumvira snags $55M Series A to guide TAC technology to the clinic
Triumvira Immunologics wants to bring its T-cell antigen coupler (TAC) technology to the clinic early next year, and it plans on riding a $55 million Series A to get there.
The Austin, TX-based biotech announced the completion of its financing round on Thursday. And now president and CEO Paul Lammers says it’s “all hands on deck” to submit an IND for the company’s HER2-directed TAC for solid tumor patients. Lammers hopes the TAC will be ready for human testing in late Q1 of 2021.
The funding “will give us a nice runway to do a lot of fun stuff,” he said. The CEO helmed Mirna Therapeutics until a reverse merger with Synlogic in 2017.
Leaps by Bayer and Northpond Ventures led the Series A, and Oceanpine Capital, Viva Biotech Holdings, Bloom Burton, and the Centre for Commercialization of Cancer Immunotherapy joined in.
The company’s TAC tech is designed to activate cancer-fighting T cells “in a natural fashion,” Lammers said. “We truly think that a natural activation of the T cell is a step forward in T-cell therapy, and that’s really what we’re trying to accomplish with our TAC T cell.”
When not in contact with cancer cells, TAC T cells are totally inactive — as opposed to CAR-T cells which may become exhausted, Lammers said. Plus, the CEO said the TAC technology could be safer than current treatments.
“Because of the risk of toxicities, in fact, it’s only a limited number of patients that are eligible to receive these kinds of CAR-T therapies to begin with. If we can expand that population with a safer engineered T cell, that would be fantastic,” he said.
It’ll all come down to the human studies, which will initially include a variety of participants, including gastric, ovarian and breast cancer patients.
Triumvira will also use Series A funding to develop its allogeneic TAC, for which it hopes to submit an IND at the end of next year. In November, the company received fast-track designation from the FDA for its TAC01-CD19 as a potential third-line therapy for patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). The company was set to begin a Phase I/II study by the end of 2019, but then the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
For now, Triumvira is putting its CD19 TAC on the back burner to focus on its solid tumors TAC.
“Solid tumors is where we think our biggest value proposition is for investors and for the company, and that’s really something that we’d like to expand in the coming years,” Lammers said.
Juergen Eckhardt, head of Leaps by Bayer, said Triumvira’s pipeline brings forth a “unique opportunity in the development of next-generation cell therapies that promise to address previously incurable cancers.” He and VP of venture investments Jak Knowles will join the biotech’s board of directors.