CatalYm GmbH, based in Martinsreid near Munich, has concluded a Series B financing of 50 million euros. The biopharmaceutical start-up focusing on novel cancer immunotherapies intends to use the funds for the clinical development of its GDF-15 antibody against cancer. This is scheduled to start at the end of 2020.
CatalYm is developing innovative immunotherapies using monoclonal antibodies that modify the microenvironment of tumors in such a way that immune cells can better enter the microenvironment of "cold" (= immune resistant) tumors. The treatment could overcome major limitations of existing immunotherapies and improve the survival and quality of life of cancer patients.
Antibody CTL-002 to switch off immunosuppressive mechanisms
CatalYm's most advanced antibody CTL-002 specifically targets the tumor-produced protein GDF-15. GDF-15 belongs to the TGF-beta family and is associated with poor prognosis and reduced overall survival in several tumour types. High concentrations of GDF-15 in the serum and tumor-microenvironment help the tumor to evade the immune system and are associated with resistance to current therapies. CCTL-002 addresses three of the tumor's immune suppressive mechanisms all involving the inhibitory effect of GDF-15 on the immunostimulatory LFA-1/ICAM-1 interaction. By neutralizing GDF-15, CTL-002 is expected to enhance infiltration of immune cells into the tumor, improve priming of T-cells by dendritic cells and improve the tumor killing by T-cells and NK-cells.
In less than three years, the Martinsried-based company was able to move the antibody CTL-002 from scientific research to clinical development. It will be developed as a monotherapy and in combination with approved PD-1/PD-L1 antagonists in checkpoint-blocker refractory patients.
Dr. Manfred Ruediger, CEO of CatalYm stated, "This fundraising with the strong commitment of both our existing and new investors allows us to bring CTL-002 to clinical proof-of-concept and to establish that neutralizing GDF-15 is one of the key immune restorative mechanisms in a broad range of tumor types. CTL-002 is set to enter clinical development in December 2020."
The financing was led by Vesalius Biocapital III and joined by Novartis Venture Fund (NVF), Wachstumsfonds Bayern, coparion and founding investors Forbion and BioGeneration Ventures. The Company was founded with initial investments from Forbion and BGV in 2016 as a spin-off from the Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg based on the innovative research work of Prof. Dr. Joerg Wischhusen.
Marc Lohrmann, Managing Partner of Vesalius BioCapital III stated: "We are extremely pleased to join CatalYm in this Series B round and to help bring this new oncology treatment paradigm to patients in a first-in-human-study starting before year end 2020."
Dr. Holger Reithinger, Chairman of CatalYm's Supervisory Board and General Partner at Forbion stated: "This financing is a recognition of the progress achieved by Catalym's team over the past four years. As founding investor, we welcome our new partners Vesalius BioCapital III, Novartis Venture Fund, Wachstumsfonds Bayern and coparion to join us in supporting the clinical development of CTL-002."