Danish antibody therapeutics specialist Symphogen raised €100 million (about $134 million) in what it claims is the largest ever private equity round in Europe for a private biotech firm. The placement of preferred stock was led by Novo A/S and Essex Woodland, which together contributed 70% of the investment. Danish pension fund PKA also participated as a new investor.
Symphogen plans to use the proceeds to progress development of its lead clinical oncology product Sym004, along with additional clinical and preclinical products both in house and through partnering.
Founded in 2000, Symphogen is exploiting its Symplex™ antibody discovery platform, SymSelect™ lead selection technology, and Sympress™ manufacturing platform to discover and develop recombinant antibody mixtures as therapeutic and prophylactic candidates. The technology essentially uses a mixture of antibodies that bind to different regions of the same antigen or multiple antigens as an approach that has advantages over traditional immunoglobulin or monoclonal antibody platforms, the firm claims. Resulting recombinant antibody mixtures can reportedly be produced in unlimited supply using traditional large-scale biological manufacturing techniques.
Sym004 is a recombinant IgG1 product comprising two antibodies targeting different, nonoverlapping EGFR epitopes. Phase I/II development in Europe and the U.S. was initiated in April 2010 in the treatment of advanced solid cancers.
Until December 2010 Symphogen’s Phase II-stage Sym001 (rozrolimupab; anti-Rhesus D) candidate had been in development in collaboration with Swedish Orphan Biovitrum for the treatment of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) and prevention of hemolytic disease in newborns (HDN). However, on December 30, 2010, Biovitrum confirmed it was returning all rights to the product back to Symphogen, for what it termed "strategic" reasons. Sym001 is a recombinant polyclonal composition of 25 different Rhesus D-specific antibodies.
Symphogen’s preclinical candidates include Sym002 (anti-vaccinia virus rpAb), which comprises 26 recombinant anti-vaccinia virus antibodies as an alternative to existing anti-vaccinia hyperimmune immunoglobulins (VIG) for the treatment of small pox infection and the treatment of adverse effects caused by smallpox vaccination. Sym003 (anti-RSV rpAb) is a recombinant polyclonal antirespiratory syncytial virus (RSV) antibody containing six unique antibodies. Sym003 is currently in preclinical development as an alternative to existing monoclonal antibodies for the prevention of severe respiratory disease.
In addition to leveraging its technologies for the development of an in-house therapeutics pipeline, Symphogen also offers its Symplex and Sympress technologies through partnerships with companies looking to develop fully human monoclonal or polyclonal antibodies for targeted therapeutics, for use in the characterization of antibody response in vaccine programs, or for diagnostics applications.
At the end of November 2010 Symphogen reported receipt of a milestone payment from Genentech, related to an antibody therapeutic in development under the firms’ infectious diseases collaboration.