SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Tizona Therapeutics, Inc., a privately held immunology company harnessing the power of the immune system to develop treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases, today announced the closing of a $43 million Series B financing. Proceeds will be used to advance the company’s immunotherapy programs. These programs include its lead drug candidate, an anti-CCR4 monoclonal antibody for the treatment of cancer, which is expected to enter the clinic in 2017. To date, the company has raised more than $70 million through its Series A and B financing rounds to fund its diversified pipeline.
The Series B financing was co-led by Abingworth and Canaan Partners with investments from Lightstone Ventures and existing Series A investors, including MPM Capital, Amgen Ventures, Astellas Venture Management and InterWest Partners. As part of the financing, Shelley Chu, M.D., Ph.D., Partner of Abingworth, Nina Kjellson, Partner of Canaan Partners, and Jean George, General Partner of Lightstone Ventures, have joined Tizona’s Board of Directors.
“We expect Tizona’s anti-CCR4 antibody to play an important role in inducing antitumor activity by depleting regulatory T cells (Tregs), a type of cell crucial to establishing and maintaining an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment, ” said Pablo J. Cagnoni, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Tizona. “We have an opportunity to contribute a potentially valuable new addition to the group of novel immunotherapies that is changing standards of care in cancer treatment. With support from this investor group, along with our renowned scientific founders and accomplished team, Tizona is well-positioned to be a leader in the development of next generation immunotherapies.”
Tizona was co-founded by the world’s preeminent scientific leaders in translational research and immunotherapy development – Charles G. Drake, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Oncology, Immunology and Urology, Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center; Vijay K. Kuchroo, D.V.M., Ph.D., Director, Evergrande Center for Immunologic Diseases, Harvard Medical School; Wayne A. Marasco, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Cancer Immunology and Virology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Drew Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D., Abeloff Professor of Oncology, Medicine, Pathology and Molecular Biology and Genetics, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine; Dario Vignali, Ph.D., Vice Chair and Professor of Immunology, Department of Immunology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Co-Leader of the Cancer Immunology Program and Co-Director of the Tumor Microenvironment Center, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute; and Jedd Wolchok, M.D., Ph.D., Lloyd J. Old/Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Chair in Clinical Investigation, Chief, Melanoma & Immunotherapeutics Service, Associate Director, Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy, Professor of Medicine, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In addition, Ana Anderson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, Core faculty member of the Evergrande Center for Immunologic Diseases, is a scientific advisor to the company.
In addition to the anti-CCR4 antibody program, proceeds from the financing will be used to advance Tizona’s pipeline, including the company’s IL-35 programs. IL-35 is a recently discovered immunosuppressive cytokine, predominantly expressed by Tregs. IL-35 is involved in suppression of anti-tumor immunity through its modulation of effector T cells, as well as myeloid cells. Blocking IL-35’s activity may reverse immune suppression in the tumor microenvironment and lead to a robust and effective anti-tumor immune response. Given IL-35’s potent suppressive properties, targeting this pathway also holds significant promise as a potential first-in-class treatment for autoimmune diseases.
About Tizona Therapeutics, Inc.
Tizona Therapeutics, Inc., is a privately held immunology company harnessing the power of the immune system to develop treatments for cancer and autoimmune disorders. A healthy immune system integrates information from pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cells that regulate the immune system’s function. In cancer, tumor cells evade recognition by controlling cells that suppress the proper function of the immune system. In autoimmune disease, the immune system attacks “self” tissues in the body due to insufficient regulation. Tizona’s therapies are designed to regulate these suppressive cells, thereby either activating the body’s ability to fight cancer or preventing the immune system from attacking healthy tissues in autoimmune diseases. Tizona’s lead drug candidate, an anti-CCR4 monoclonal antibody, is expected to enter the clinic in 2017. For more information, visit www.tizonatx.com.