Agensys Inc. raised $41.3 million in a Series D round of financing to fund development of the 12 antibody products in its pipeline.
The Santa Monica, Calif.-based firm said its therapeutic antibodies, many of which are fully human, are being generated to a portfolio of cancer targets that encompass 14 types of solid tumors. Among its significant collaborations are deals with Merck and Co. Inc., Seattle Genetics Inc., Genentech Inc., Amgen Inc. and Sanofi Pasteur.
The company's lead product is AGS-PSCA, a monoclonal antibody targeting prostate stem cell antigen that was the subject of a potential $170 million deal from 2005 with Merck, of Whitehouse Station, N.J. The high-affinity, fully human IgG1k product, which was generated using Amgen's XenoMouse technology, demonstrated encouraging results in Phase I trials. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 18, 2005.)
Agensys plans to file an investigational new drug application this year for AGS-16M18, a fully human antibody to AGS-16, which it said is expressed in more than 90 percent of patients with kidney cancer and is involved in cell proliferation, invasion and angiogenesis.
Earlier this year, Agensys and Seattle Genetics, of Bothell, Wash., entered a deal to develop four antibody-drug conjugate products that combine Agensys targets and fully human antibodies with Seattle Genetics' linker and toxin technology. Work has begun on the first anticancer product, which targets AGS-5. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 9, 2007.)
"We are gratified with the reception we had for this financing in the investment community," said Donald Rice, chairman, president and CEO of Agensys. "It's a reflection of our large antibody product pipeline addressing unmet medical needs in cancer.
"We also offer significant internal antibody development capabilities, very strong corporate alliances, and a seasoned management team," Rice said in a news release. "We will use the proceeds to advance our lead program through Phase II and bring three more products into clinical development by the end of 2008."
The Series D round was co-led by Duquesne Capital Management LLC and JAFCO Co. Ltd. Also participating were new investors Innovis Investments and Nextech Ventures Ltd., as well as existing investors Bear Stearns Health Innoventures, Alta Partners, HBM BioVentures, Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch & Cie, H&Q Life Sciences Investments and OrbiMed Associates.
Agensys' deal with South San Francisco-based Genentech, signed in 2004, covers therapeutic and diagnostic products surrounding two cancer targets. A deal from 2005 with Paris-based Sanofi Pasteur focuses on vaccines for colorectal and prostate cancers. From Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Amgen, Agensys has rights to use the XenoMouse technology to generate fully human antibodies to multiple targets.
In other financing news:
• Tikvah Therapeutics Inc., of Atlanta, received gross proceeds of $10 million in a convertible note financing. Tikvah focuses on developing treatments for diseases of the central nervous system, including neurology and psychiatry disorders. It said that in the coming months, it plans to move forward with investigational new drug applications for two lead products, as well as seek to acquire later-stage and pipeline products. Paramount BioCapital Inc., which founded Tikvah, was placement agent for the financing.