Immunocore said today it completed a $320 million private financing round— Europe’s largest-ever Series A life sciences financing—with $80 million from Malin and additional capital from Eli Lilly and other investors.
Immunocore is a developer of new T cell receptor (TCR) based therapies designed to treat a variety of cancers, viral infections, and autoimmune diseases. Immunocore plans to use the proceeds to accelerate its pipeline of ImmTACs (Immune mobilizing mTCR Against Cancer), Malin said.
ImmTACs are a new class of bispecific biologics that have shown potential for treating a variety of solid tumors, either as monotherapies or in combination with other drugs.
Immunocore will work to advance its lead program, IMCgp100 for malignant melanoma. IMCgp100 comprises an affinity-enhanced TCR designed to work by recognizing an HLA-A2-restricted peptide from the melanoma-associated antigen gp100, fused to an anti-CD3 single chain antibody fragment. At the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in April, the company said that IMCgp100 generated positive Phase I/IIa trial data in patients with advanced metastatic cutaneous and ocular melanoma.
Immunocore is also developing IMCgp100 for glioblastoma, where the company is in a preclinical “IND-enabling” phase.
“Given its unique and innovative science, a balanced pipeline with possible applications across a number of therapeutic areas, and first class executive team and Board leadership, we believe Immunocore has the potential to create a highly unique premier biotech company and establish itself as a substantial enterprise and thought leader within the industry,” Malin CEO Adrian Howd said in a statement.
Howd and a director of the company, Kelly Martin, will join Immunocore’s board as part of the deal.
Malin said it will finance its investment through its own cash reserves. Malin will join Lilly as well as Woodford Investment Management, RTW Funds, and a number of existing Immunocore investors in the oversubscribed financing round.
“We believe this is another endorsement of our technology, our novel class of TCR based biologic therapies, of our mission to build a world-leading biotechnology company and of the outstanding scientists at Immunocore,” Eliot Forster, Ph.D., Immunocore’s CEO, said in a statement.
Lilly and Immunocore are partners in co-discovering and co-developing ImmTAC-based treatments, under a collaboration launched last year that could generate for Immunocore $25 million-plus per candidate developed.
On June 29, the companies said they began an immunotherapy-based clinical trial collaboration to explore the utility of IMCgp100 in combination with Lilly’s galunisertib (LY2157299) and merestinib (LY2801653) for melanoma.
Immunocore and Lilly plan to conduct a Phase Ib/II clinical study evaluating the safety and preliminary efficacy of IMCgp100 with galunisertib in metastatic cutaneous melanoma; and a second Phase Ib/II study combining IMCgp100 with merestinib in metastatic uveal melanoma. Both studies are anticipated to begin in 2016.
Immunocore also has multi-target co-discovery programs, with potential for milestones and royalties, with Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca (MedImmune).
Founded in 2008, Immunocore spun out of Oxford University and is headquartered outside Oxford, where it now has more than 155 staff. For the year ended September 30, 2014, Immunocore recorded revenues of approximately £6.4 million (nearly $10 million) and a loss for the financial year of approximately £5.6 million ($8.7 million).