Lumicks BV raised $93 million in a series D financing led by new investors Farallon Capital Management and Lauxera Capital Partners. The proceeds are earmarked for expansion of the Lumicks’ product pipeline and for commercialization of its Z-Movi cell avidity analyzer.
Other participants in the round included Softbank Vision 2, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Parian Global Management, Pura Vida Investments and Irving investors, as well as existing investor Gilde Healthcare and select members of Lumicks’ management team.
“We are ecstatic to receive an investment from such an impressive group of investors that is excited to support us for our next phase of growth,” said Olivier Heyning, Lumicks’ CEO. “With this fundraising, we believe Lumicks is well-positioned to drive significant growth of our Dynamic Single-Molecule (DSM) platform and further accelerate the commercial adoption of the industry-changing Z-Movi solution.”
Closing the gap
Spun out of research at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Lumicks is focused on two rapidly emerging areas in biology research and immuno-oncology: dynamic single-cell molecule analysis and cell avidity analysis. The company’s C-Trap optical tweezers – fluorescence microscopy product lets scientists analyze complex biological processes in real time. The Z-Movi cell avidity analyzer provides a new means to measure the force of the interaction between an immune cell and a target cell.
Current methods of measuring the efficacy of cellular therapies, such as cytotoxicity assays and cytokine secretion are not very sensitive and, in many instances, give the wrong answer. They also are time- and work-intensive. The gold standard, a study using xenograft implants in mice, can cost tens of thousands of dollars and take several months, and must be repeated to confirm the finding.
“What’s really transformative about the Z-Movi platform is that this is an assay that takes about 10 minutes from start to finish on the machine and directly correlates with answers that you get from these more traditional assays,” Alex Slack, co-founder and chief investment officer of Lauxera Capital Partners, told BioWorld. “And it is much more sensitive by virtue of being able to be used on a single-cell basis.”
Amsterdam-based Lumicks is also making an impact in life science space with its DSM platform. In its work with biopharma partners, the company has shown a capacity to better explain the mechanisms that relate to how DNA damage repair agents in cancer can be optimized effectively to increase the killing of tumor cells achieved in combination with chemotherapy, according to Slack.
On the cellular avidity side, drug developers are using Z-Movi to look at ways to better design a chimeric antigen receptor T cell construct or to achieve a binding domain that “has better affinity but also leads to better avidity, because affinity has not traditionally correlated with clinical efficacy in a way that’s predictable,” he said.
Heyning said customers are using the cell avidity technology in two main ways. One is further upstream to screen tens or even thousands of leads for which are the best to progress in drug discovery and development. The other is later stage, when they are close to deciding on a handful of best leads, by providing more information and validating immune response, the recognition and binding of the immune therapy against other parameters.
It’s all about being more rapid in filtering out candidates in getting to lead phase quicker and then in the lead phase having more information that allows for better decision-making, which improves the success rate in clinical trials.
Use of proceeds
Lumicks plans to use series D funds to build out commercialization for both of its platforms, as well as to develop next-generation products to serve unmet needs.
There is a need for better sorting upstream in discovery, for better analysis of cell-binding avidity in development and to enhance clinical trials and production, Heyning said. “And ultimately, also this technology has a big unmet need in companion diagnostics in the clinic.”
Slack agrees. He sees a longer-term opportunity for the Z-Movi platform to, for example, quantify the avidity of a patient’s own immune cells for either their tumor or a more standardized tumor line and use that information to improve therapies like tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes.
“We believe Lumick’s Z-Movi cell avidity analyzer for direct, high-resolution measurement of cell avidity is a revolutionary platform that can accelerate translational R&D across institutions and biopharma,” Slack said.
“What this financing will do is significantly bolster the resources available for commercialization globally of both of their platforms. It will bolster the product roadmap and the ability to continue to take the sort of beachhead product and expand both forward and backward in the research and development process, using the initial core products as the anchor. And it will be significantly invested into software and application development … to increase the number of use cases for both of their products.”