By Karen Young
MacroGenics Inc. completed the second tranche of its Series A financing for $9.5 million, bringing the total raised to $13.5 million. The company also appointed a senior vice president of MedImmune Inc., Scott Koenig, as president and CEO.
In a third move, MacroGenics said it completed sponsored research and licensing agreements with the Institute for Systems Biology, a nonprofit research center based in Seattle.
Koenig, who came on board MacroGenics last week, said he was ¿very excited¿ to join the company, which has ¿tremendous backers and investors and superb founders with a terrific technology.¿
The second tranche of the financing was completed with InterWest Partners, of Menlo Park, Calif.; MPM Capital LP, of Cambridge, Mass.; and OrbiMed Advisors LLC, of New York. The funding is projected to take the company into mid-2003, at which point Koenig said he expects to be in the later stages of development of its first product.
¿We will raise additional funds for the clinical end of the development,¿ he said.
MacroGenics was founded in August 2000 by Jeffrey Ravetch, Leroy Hood, Alan Aderem and Ruedi Aebersold. It is headquartered in Rockville, Md., and focuses on the development of immunotherapeutics for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases. Much of the work is centered on developing antibodies and testing other companies¿ antibodies.
At MedImmune, Koenig led research discovery efforts, including the identification of candidate monoclonal antibodies and vaccines for the prevention and treatment of viral and bacterial infections, cancer, autoimmune diseases and complications of transplantation. Koenig also served as a senior staff fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Hood, Aderem and Aebersold founded the Institute for Systems Biology. MacroGenics will be working with the institute to identify novel cancer antigens, adjuvants and certain inflammatory disease targets using proteomics and genomics technologies.
The institute is using a number of technologies to look at disease from a systemic approach, Koenig said.
In addition to a recently completed research agreement, MacroGenics and the institute also completed a licensing agreement for technology to identify unique prostate cancer antigens.
¿The nature of the relationship is that we will fund work at the institute, particularly in the identification of novel cancer antigens expressed on the surface of cancer cells or secreted by cancer cells, which then can be used to generate product candidates using our antibody technology,¿ Koenig said. ¿In addition, we will collaborate on projects related to the identification of novel adjuvants to enhance immunotherapy [using] either vaccines or antibodies as well as identifying certain inflammatory targets for other noncancer diseases.¿
The technology is in large part using the expertise in high-throughput proteomics and genomics at the institute. The company¿s technologies also include transgenic and knockout models, including FcR humanized mouse models; isotope-coded affinity tag and tandem mass spectrometry, which is applicable to a variety of tissue samples, cell lines and pathological material; and other technologies.
MacroGenics will have about four to six of its employees in offices near the institute to help foster discovery efforts, Koenig said.
Koenig said that the company is several years from entering the clinic, however.
¿Right now the lead molecule is FcRIII, an antibody that¿s going to be used for treating autoimmune diseases,¿ which is in the research stage, he said.
Koenig also said MacroGenics is in discussions with companies on collaborations for target identification of cancer agents.
¿Lots of companies have expressed interest in working with us,¿ he said.
MacroGenics is focused on cataloging the uniquely expressed genes and surface-expressed proteins on cancerous cells and differentiating them from similar ones expressed on normal tissue. The process begins by collecting samples of large numbers of tumor and normal tissues, developing reliable methods for distinguishing between the two and building comprehensive differential displays of the genes and proteins found in the tumor cells and absent from normal cells.