CureVac GmbH raised an additional €13 million in its Series B financing, taking the round's total to €35 million (US$48 million).
The Tubingen, Germany-based company will use funds for development of messenger RNA-based cancer immunotherapeutics for various indications. CureVac said its RNActive technology platform for developing cancer vaccines allows for the construction of long-chain mRNA molecules suitable for human therapeutic applications.
"The additional funds will allow us to make optimal use of RNActive for tumor therapy," Thomas Lander, managing director and chief medical officer of CureVac, said in a news release. "We expect to start Phase I/II studies to explore efficacy and safety of RNActive in 2008."
The company said preclinical results have shown the technology may have applicability in various indications, which will be explored further with the new funding.
CureVac was spun out of Tubingen University in 2000 and now has secured about €38 million in equity financing. Investors in the financing were DH Capital GmbH & Co. KG and OH Beteiligungen GmbH & Co. KG, both funds of SAP founder Dietmar Hopp.
CureVac said it is able to stabilize mRNA and produce reasonable quantities, which it said has been a limiting factor in mRNA product development. The idea of using mRNA for therapeutic purposes, it said, is compelling because the simple injection of a customized mRNA molecule could induce production of the desired protein by the body's own cells. In the case of cancer vaccines, the idea is to induce production of tumor-specific antigens to trigger a specific immune response against cancer.
In other financing news:
• Cellumen Inc., of Pittsburgh, which focuses on cellular systems biology for drug discovery and development, completed an $8.7 million Series B financing round. Safeguard Scientific Inc. provided $6 million of the investment, while Series A investor PA Early Stage Partners provided $2 million. Cellumen's objective is to use its cellular systems biology approaches to improve efficacy, decrease toxicity and optimize patient stratification and treatment for pharmaceutical companies' new and existing drugs. Cellumen intends to use proceeds from the financing to complete its management team, further develop its product catalog, continue its CSB platform development and commercialize its cellular models of disease and cytotoxicity profiling services and products.
• TheraGenetics Ltd., of London, raised $6 million in a Series A financing round. Swarraton Partners led the financing, with participation from Tudor Capital, IP Venture Fund and IP Group plc. The company is developing personalized medicine diagnostics focused on central nervous system disorders. Its pharmacogenetic diagnostics are intended to guide and improve the treatment of CNS disorders. TheraGenetics is a spinout from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London.
• Clinical Data Inc., of Newton, Mass., plans to sell 3 million common shares in an underwritten public offering. Underwriter Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. would have an option to purchase up to 450,000 additional shares to cover overallotments. Clinical Data's largest stockholder, Chairman Randal Kirk, through one or more of his affiliates, intends to purchase up to $50 million of the stock in the offering, to maintain at least his current 40 percent ownership position. Clinical Data's stock (NASDAQ:CLDA) closed at $22.35 Tuesday, up 81 cents.