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GEN News Highlights : Dec 17, 2010

NovImmune Pockets CHF 20M to Advance Therapeutic mAbs

Company’s pipeline includes candidates for inflammatory and immunological diseases.

NovImmune reports making CHF 20 million (about $20.71 million) in a Series B financing round led by BZ Bank Aktiengesellschaft. NovImmune is a drug discovery and development company with a focus on therapeutic mAbs for inflammatory diseases and immune-related disorders.

“The current financing round allows NovImmune to generate proof-of-concept data with at least two compounds, increase the number of partnerships, and complete the validation of its proprietary bispecific antibody generation platform,” says Jack Barbut, CEO.

NovImmune’s technologies include the DiversityTrap platform for generating mAbs and the UltiMAb system to obtain fully human therapeutic mAbs using transgenic mice. The company says that, to date, it has generated seven mAbs. Three compounds are in clinical development, with the most advanced in Phase II. NI-0401 binds and modulates the CD3 epsilon chain, which is expressed on all T cells. It is in Phase III trials as a treatment for Crohn disease, transplantation, and type 1 diabetes.

Phase II candidate NI-0801 binds specifically and selectively to the human chemokine IP-10 and inhibits the interaction of IP-10 with its cognate receptor and glycosaminoglycans, NovImmune explains. The mechanism of action of NI-0801, therefore, is to block recruitment and activation of pathogenic cells within sites of tissue damage, interrupting the cycle of self perpetuating disease.

NI-0701, also in Phase II, binds specifically and selectively to the human chemokine RANTES and inhibits the interaction of RANTES with its cognate receptors and glycosaminoglycans, the firm notes. RANTES is produced and released in response to inflammatory processes by a wide variety of cell types. It is associated with the pathology of allergic rhinitis, arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, ischemia/reperfusion injury, multiple sclerosis, sarcoidosis, systemic lupus erythematosis, and organ rejection following transplant.

In July Genentech acquired exclusive rights to a fully human IL-17 mAb from NovImmune along with access to back-up antibodies. NovImmune claims the late preclinical-stage antibody could have applications as a therapeutic candidate against multiple autoimmune diseases.