CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--ImmusanT, Inc., a clinical-stage company developing Nexvax2®, a therapeutic vaccine designed to induce immune tolerance in celiac disease, today announced the completion of a $40 million Series C equity financing from ARCH Venture Partners and Vatera Healthcare Partners. The proceeds will fund a randomized Phase II clinical trial of escalating doses of Nexvax2 in celiac patients who possess the human leukocyte antigen-DQ2.5 (HLA-DQ2.5) immune recognition gene. Nexvax2 will be studied as an adjunct to a gluten-free diet to demonstrate clinically relevant proof of concept for patients receiving a gluten challenge. Funds will also be used for the continued advancement of the company’s diagnostic biomarker program and platform expansion.
ARCH Venture Partners, who led the Series C financing, joins Vatera Healthcare Partners as an equity investor in the company. Steven Gillis, Ph.D., Managing Director, and Thomas O. Daniel, M.D., Venture Partner of ARCH Venture Partners, will join ImmusanT’s Board of Directors. Dr. Gillis is a trained immunologist and is credited with pioneering the field of cytokines and cytokine receptors. Dr. Daniel is the former President and Chairman of Research and Early Development at Celgene Corporation.
“ARCH’s support and the addition of Drs. Gillis and Daniel to our Board of Directors represents a significant inflection point for our company,” said Leslie Williams, President and Chief Executive Officer of ImmusanT. “With this investment, we are well-positioned to advance Nexvax2 in the clinic and advance the biomarker program. In addition, we are looking forward to exploiting the potential of our Epitope-Specific Immuno-Therapy (ESIT) platform to develop new therapies that could benefit patients beyond those living with celiac disease.”
Approximately 90% of celiac disease patients carry the HLA-DQ2.5 immune recognition gene, the target of Nexvax2. Currently, there is no FDA-approved therapeutic for the treatment of celiac disease. Approximately 30% of adults with celiac disease have other autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and thyroid disease.
“ARCH's investment reflects the potential of Nexvax2 to induce antigen-specific tolerance for the treatment of celiac disease, and the potential of ImmusanT’s broader platform to treat a range of autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes,” said Dr. Gillis. “ImmusanT has effectively positioned itself as a leader in the development of antigen-specific immunotherapies, and we look forward to working with the ImmusanT team to advance Nexvax2 and the platform, and ultimately help patients.”
“We are pleased to welcome ARCH to the ImmusanT investor base, and Drs. Gillis and Daniel, who bring a combination of unparalleled immunology knowledge and exceptional research and business accomplishments to the Board of Directors,” said Kevin Ferro, Chairman of the Board of ImmusanT and Co-founder of Vatera Healthcare Partners. “We look forward to their contributions and insights as ImmusanT advances the development of our novel vaccine programs in celiac disease and other potential indications.”
To learn more about Dr. Gillis, Dr. Daniel and the ImmusanT Board of Directors please visit www.ImmusanT.com/board.
MTS Health Partners, L.P. advised on the transaction.
Nexvax2® is the only therapeutic approach for celiac disease in clinical development today that targets the fundamental cause of the disease; the loss of immune tolerance to gluten. Nexvax2® is a therapeutic vaccine that reprograms the T-cells responsible for the symptoms of celiac disease to stop triggering a pro-inflammatory response. Nexvax2® intends to protect patients with celiac disease against inadvertent exposure to gluten.
About ImmusanT, Inc.
ImmusanT is a privately held biotechnology company focused on protecting patients with celiac disease against the effects of gluten. By harnessing new discoveries in immunology, ImmusanT aims to improve diagnosis and medical management of celiac disease by protecting against the effects of gluten exposure while patients maintain a gluten-free diet. The company is developing Nexvax2®, a therapeutic vaccine for celiac disease, and diagnostic and monitoring tools to improve celiac disease management. ImmusanT’s targeted immunotherapy discovery platform can be applied to a variety of autoimmune diseases. To learn more about ImmusanT, visit www.ImmusanT.com, or follow ImmusanT on Twitter.
About ARCH Venture Partners
ARCH Venture Partners, one of the largest early stage technology venture firms in the U.S., invests in seed and early stage advanced technology companies. ARCH enjoys special recognition as a leader in the commercialization of technologies developed at academic institutions, corporate research labs and national laboratories. ARCH has earned a reputation as one of the leading venture firms in early stage biotechnology, advanced materials, alternative energy, and specialty semiconductors, and is known for identifying and capitalizing early on fundamental trends in disruptive technology. Now in its 30th year, ARCH has over $2 billion in committed capital through nine venture funds, and has co-founded and provided initial investments for over 200 companies, including Illumina, Juno Therapeutics, Receptos, Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, Ikaria and Agios Pharmaceuticals. http://www.archventure.com/
About Vatera Healthcare Partners LLC
Vatera Healthcare Partners is a venture and private equity firm focused on investing in companies and products across the healthcare spectrum, with a particular focus in the life sciences, with the goal of identifying and developing best-in-class therapies to treat unmet medical needs and improve patients' lives. Vatera Healthcare Partners aims to pursue this objective by utilizing its team’s deep industry expertise to identify and help create leading companies with differentiated assets and/or business models across stages of development and commercialization with the potential to generate meaningful value over time. http://vaterahealthcare.com/