Asher Bio Closes $108 Million Series B Financing
Asher Biotherapeutics, a biotechnology company developing precisely-targeted immunotherapies for cancer, autoimmune, and infectious diseases, today announced the closing of an oversubscribed Series B financing, which raised $108 million. The financing was led by Wellington Management Company LLP, and included new investors RA Capital Management, Janus Henderson Investors, Logos Capital, Marshall Wace and Alexandria Venture Investments, and, along with existing investors Third Rock Ventures, Invus, Boxer Capital of Tavistock Group, Mission BioCapital, and other undisclosed institutional investors.
“We are pleased to announce this Series B financing and we are tremendously grateful to our new and existing investors for their support and commitment to our goal of delivering a new class of biotherapeutics, with superior selectivity and broad applicability across multiple tumor types, as well as infectious and autoimmune diseases,” said Craig Gibbs, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Asher Bio. “Since our founding, we have made significant progress validating the modularity and broad applicability of our cis-targeting platform, achieving preclinical proof-of-concept for our first three pipeline programs and building our team into a sustainable organization, with the depth and capabilities to exploit the full potential of our novel immunotherapies. This funding will enable us to accelerate the development of AB248, while continuing to drive our additional programs forward with urgency, as we aim to restore hope, health and happiness in the lives of patients.”
Asher Bio aims to advance a portfolio of cis-targeted therapies derived from diverse cytokines and cell-types, each designed to address the challenge of pleiotropy that limits the efficacy and tolerability of many immunotherapies. By engaging two receptors on the same cell for activation, an immunomodulatory receptor for therapeutic action and a specific target receptor for directing the therapy to the desired cell type, Asher Bio’s cis-targeted immunotherapies seek to offer a new level of selectivity, with the potential to deliver superior clinical outcomes and an improved safety profile.
“We are encouraged by Asher Bio’s tremendous progress since launch, including the generation of new preclinical data that further validates the company’s unique cis-targeting approach,” said Jeffrey Tong, Ph.D., Partner at Third Rock Ventures. “We believe cis-targeted immunotherapies may be able to overcome the selectivity challenges that prohibited first-generation cytokine immunotherapies from achieving their full therapeutic potential, ultimately providing better outcomes to patients by offering improvements in both efficacy and safety. We are pleased to continue supporting the Asher team as it applies its platform to address some of the most significant unmet needs in oncology, infectious and autoimmune diseases.”
Proceeds from this financing will enable Asher Bio to fund its lead cis-targeted immunotherapy, AB248, through clinical proof-of-concept, while advancing a second program through investigational new drug (IND)-enabling studies and continuing to invest in its cis-targeting platform. Asher Bio expects to file an IND application for AB248 with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the third quarter of 2022. AB248 is an engineered interleukin-2 (IL-2) immunotherapy designed to specifically target CD8+ effector T cells. In preclinical and IND-enabling studies, AB248 has evidenced a highly differentiated profile, selectively expanding CD8+ T-cells, while avoiding immune cell subtypes associated with toxicities and immunosuppressive effects, resulting in enhanced anti-tumor efficacy and improved tolerability. The Series B funding will also support Asher Bio’s development of additional targeted immunotherapies, including a CD8+ T‑cell cis-targeted STAT3 cytokine and a CAR-T cis-targeted IL-2, both of which have demonstrated preclinical proof-of-concept.
“We designed our cis-targeting platform to leverage a systematic, modular process, which can be applied across an array of immunomodulatory molecules and cell types,” said Ivana Djuretic, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Asher Bio. “This enables us to continuously apply learnings from our research and development efforts across our earlier-stage portfolio, rapidly creating and de-risking additional programs. With this financing, we will be able to invest more aggressively in our next wave of novel therapeutic candidates, accelerating not only the development of AB248, but the advancement of our second program through IND-enabling studies.”