Achilles Therapeutics (“Achilles”), a biopharmaceutical company developing personalised cancer immunotherapies, today announces it has closed a £100 million Series B financing led by incoming U.S. investor RA Capital Management, corner-stoned by founding investor Syncona and joined by important new investors including Forbion, Invus, Perceptive Advisors and Redmile Group.
Proceeds from this financing will deliver two human proof-of-concept studies using a unique personalised T cell therapy approach targeting clonal neoantigens in non-small cell lung cancer and melanoma. These programmes are expected to enter the clinic this year. In addition, the financing will enable the Company to continue building out its manufacturing capabilities as well as broadening its growing solid tumour pre-clinical product pipeline.
“Achilles is leading the next wave of immuno-oncology drug development. We have moved from concept to clinic-ready in less than three years. We are extremely pleased to welcome this excellent group of new investors to Achilles and I would like to personally thank our existing founding investors for their continued support,” said Dr Iraj Ali, CEO of Achilles Therapeutics. “With this fundraising we have made a clear statement about the scale and nature of our ambitions to bring novel cancer therapies rapidly to patients with a high unmet medical need.”
“In 2016, we saw an opportunity to work with world-leading experts to found a company harnessing unique insight into the understanding of cancer evolution, bioinformatics and the development of cell-based immunotherapies to target the treatment of solid tumours. We are delighted with the outcome of this funding round, which is a testament to the Company’s globally differentiated proposition and best-in-class team. We look forward to continuing to support Achilles as it works toward its goal to bring treatments to patients,” added Martin Murphy, CEO of Syncona Investment Management Limited.
“The Achilles approach integrates years of multi-disciplinary scientific and clinical knowledge from immuno-oncology, cell therapy, and genomics with the goal of creating a TIL-based therapeutic enriched with T cells reactive against clonal neoantigens. We believe this approach may represent the optimal way to expand the utility of polyclonal TIL therapy to multiple solid tumour types and has the potential to provide profound clinical benefit for patients living with cancer. RA Capital is impressed by the scientific co-founders, management team, board of directors, and vision of the Company, and we are excited to support Achilles as they progress into the clinic this year,” added Dr Derek DiRocco, Principal of RA Capital Management.
In association with the financing, Achilles has added two leading life science executives to the Board: Dr Derek DiRocco, Principal of RA Capital Management and Dr Rogier Rooswinkel, Partner at Forbion.
Achilles is developing personalised T cell therapies for solid tumours targeting clonal neoantigens: protein markers unique to each patient that are present on the surface of all cancer cells. Using its PELEUS™ bioinformatics platform, Achilles can identify clonal neoantigens from each patient’s unique tumour profile which are present on every cancer cell. Achilles uses its proprietary process to manufacture T cells which seek to exquisitely target a specific set of clonal neoantigens in each patient. Targeting multiple clonal neoantigens that are present on all cancer cells, but not on healthy cells, reduces the risk that new mutations can induce immune evasion and therapeutic resistance, and allows individualised treatments to potentially target and destroy tumours without harming healthy tissue.