Shanghai-based EpimAb Biotherapeutics raised $25 million in a Series A round of fundraising round to support the progress of its lead bispecific antibody candidate into Phase I trials next year. The financing was led by Oriza Seed Capital, and included investments by Decheng Capital, 3D Bioventures Capital, and Trend Investment Group.

“Today’s funding will give us the opportunity to broaden our pipeline and advance our first oncology program toward the clinic with plans to submit the first IND early 2018,” said Chengbin Wu, Ph.D., CEO of EpimAb. “We are very grateful for the tremendous support from this international investment consortium and are looking forward to further strengthen EpimAb’s position in the bispecifics antibody market through strategic partnerships and proprietary development in the future.”

Founded in 2015, EpimAb is exploiting its FIT-Ig® (Fabs-In-Tandem Immunogloblulin) platform to develop a pipeline of bispecific antibody therapeutics for immuno-oncology and other indications. The firm claims that its FIT-Igs retain the full biological function of both parental monoclonal antibodies, but unlike other commercially available biospecific antibody technologies, its platform doesn’t require Fc mutations, or use single-chain fragment (scFV) elements, linkers, or peptide connectors.

EpimAb has already inked initial partnerships to leverage the FIT-Ig platform. In October 2016, the firm agreed a cross-licensing and global development deal with U.K.-based Kymab, through which the firms will combine the FIT-Ig technology with Kymab’s Kymouse® antibody platform to develop bispecific antibodies against multiple targets. In June last year, EpimAb and China’s Innovent Biologics teamed up to develop bispecific antibodies against multiple targets for the Chinese market. The deal, which could be worth up to $120 million to EpiMab, also gives Innovent rights to license resulting antibodies outside of China. 

Commenting on EpimAb’s Series A fundraising, Eric Zhao, general partner at Oriza Seed Capital, stated, “Even though the bispecific antibody space is very competitive, we are confident that EpimAb has the potential to become a leader in the sector with a proprietary platform that was validated through early partnerships with biopharmaceutical companies in China and abroad. … We highly recognize the potential of EpimAbs's bispecific antibody platform and welcome the opportunity to support the organization in bringing therapeutic candidates into clinical trials just 3 years after its foundation.” Oriza’s Dr. Ning Li and Decheng’s Min Cui, Ph.D., will join the EpimAb board.