Initial focus is on HIV and hepatitis, while cancer trials are also ongoing.
Cytheris completed a €12 million (about $14.33 million) Series D financing. Proceeds will be used to accelerate development of the company’s IL-7 clinical programs in HIV, HBV, HCV, and oncology.
“This financing provides us with the resources to aggressively advance CYT107 through clinical trials, particularly in the HIV and hepatitis markets,” according to Michel Morre, president and CEO.
“After demonstrating the quality of IL-7 induced immune reconstitution in most patients treated in our HIV studies, we are now focusing these investigations on showing that repeated cycles of IL-7 can induce long-term or definitive immune restoration,” adds Dr. Morre. “Our HCV and HBV studies are aimed at documenting the production of specific antiviral T cells, potentially offering long-term protection.”
Clinical trials conducted on more than 140 patients in Europe, North America, and Taiwan have demonstrated a consistent safety and tolerability profile as well as the potential of IL-7 to expand and protect CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in various pathologic conditions.
Besides HIV and hepatitis indications, Phase I and II trials are ongoing in idiopathic CD4 lymphocytopenia (sponsored by NIAID/NIH) and cancer. The latter program includes an NCI/NIH-sponsored study of IL-7 in combination with dendritic cell vaccines in a pilot study of tumor vaccination in children. It also includes a study designed to restore CD4+ and CD8+ counts following T-cell depletion due to bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplant, which is being conducted at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
CYT107 is an immune-modulator for T-cell recovery and enhancement. As a growth factor and cytokine physiologically produced by marrow or thymic stromal cells and other epithelia, IL-7 has a critical and, at some steps, nonredundant stimulating effect on T lymphocyte development. The effect is seen notably on thymopoïesis and, downstream from the thymus, on homeostatic expansion of peripheral T cells.
“Cytheris has an outstanding team working on the new frontier of immunotherapy, one of the most exciting areas of current medical development,” remarks Marie-Laure Garrigues, director of investments at CDC Entreprises, a new investor that participated in the Series D round. Garrigues will join the Cytheris board of directors as an observer.
Other investors included investors Bioam Gestion, Caisse de dépôt et Placement du Québec, CDC Innovation, Crédit Agricole Private Equity, and Forbion Capital Partners.