Tacalyx raises seed funding for antibodies for cancer treatment

Seven million Euro will be provided to to generate first in class Anti-TACA-antibodies

September 25, 2019

The biotech company Tacalyx focused on the discovery and development of novel anti-TACA cancer therapies, today announced that it has successfully secured seven million Euro in seed funding. The funding round involves a syndicate of leading European life science and technology investors co-led by Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and Kurma Partners and joined by Idinvest Partners, High-Tech Gründerfonds, coparion, and Creathor Ventures.

As tumor markers, TACAs (Tumor Associated Carbohydrate Antigens) are considered highly innovative targets for anticancer therapies due to their specific expression on a wider variety of tumor cells. At the same time TACAs drive tumor virulence and therefore their masking and/or down-regulation would compromise the vital functions of the tumor cell. However, because of TACAs’ low immunogenicity, the generation of antibodies against them is a challenging task and requires innovative tools as well as extensive knowledge of the employed technology.

Tacalyx, a spin-out of the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, will use the proceeds to advance its discovery platform, progress obtained leads towards candidate selection and start its pre-clinical development. Tacalyx’s discovery platform will allow the identification and validation of TACAs followed by the generation of leads against these difficult targets, for the implementation of novel immunotherapies that trigger an anti-cancer response more efficiently. The company combines the unique ability to synthesize sufficient amounts of ultra-pure and highly complex TACA structures with its analysis and screening capabilities and its experience in successful generation of mAb leads against non-peptidic targets.

Tacalyx secured access to licenses and the know-how from Max-Planck-Innovation GmbH to the underlying technology and related discoveries made by its scientific co-founders, Peter H. Seeberger, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces, and world leading expert in glycosciences, and Oren Moscovitz, Group leader at the Max Planck Institute and an expert in glyco-biology and glyco-oncology. Seeberger’s and Moscovitz’s scientific discoveries in the fields of tumor glycoscience and glycan targeting antibody generation gave rise to Tacalyx’s proprietary platform with supplementary financial support from technology transfer funds of Max-Planck-Society.

Peter Sondermann, CEO of Tacalyx, said: “This financing, by highly experienced life sciences and technology investors, represents an important validation of our platform and development strategy and will help to position us at the forefront of this breakthrough approach. Besides establishing the company and our discovery platform for lead generation, we will use these funds to explore relevant TACA biology in detail. We will also further assess and characterize our first lead antibodies and their functional role in treating cancer. Following which in vivo pharmacology studies evaluating the safety and efficacy of our lead antibodies will provide additional functional validation to progress at least one lead molecule to clinical development.”

Detlev Mennerich, Investment Director at Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, said: “We are pleased to have built this syndicate of leading investors to advance our mission of investing in ground-breaking therapeutics-focused biotechnology companies that drive innovation in biomedical research. Anti-TACA antibody generation requires sophisticated knowledge to produce specific high-affinity binders to TACAs. Tacalyx’s synthetic TACA chemistry, its understanding of TACA biology and ability to generate and characterize anti-TACA antibodies against these low immunogenic targets will enable the Company to realize their significant potential as treatments for multiple cancers.”

Ulrich Mahr, Member General Management of Max Planck Innovation, said: “We are very pleased that together with Prof. Seeberger and Dr. Moscovitz we were able to attract both an experienced management and this syndicate of leading investors enabling the Company to build on and advance a highly innovative therapeutic approach to address cancer based on the longstanding experience and technology developed at the MPI for Colloids and Interfaces. This will contribute to our mission of efficiently translating inventions and know-how developed at the various Max-Planck-Institutes into innovative products and services for the benefit of society.”

In conjunction with the financing, Lena Krzyzak (High-Tech Gründerfonds), Ulrich Mahr (Max Planck Innovation), Detlev Mennerich (Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund), Peter Neubeck (Kurma Partners, Idinvest Partners), Sebastian Pünzeler (coparion) and Karlheinz Schmelig (Creathor) will join Tacalyx’s board of directors alongside Peter H. Seeberger.

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