Munich-based immunooncology specialist CatalYm GmbH wants to use €50m from a Series C financing round to advance its anti-GDF15 antibody to Phase II development.
Following a €60m Series B financing in 2020, Martinsried-based CatalYm GmbH announced the closing of a Series C financing round of €50m. The financing round was led by new investors Brandon Capital and Jeito Capital. Existing investors Forbion, Novartis Venture Fund, Vesalius Biocapital III, Bayern Kapital, BioGeneration Ventures and Coparion also participated in the financing.
The investors' interest is focused on visugromab, the Catalym antibody designed to neutralise GDF-15. GDF-15 is a molecule secreted by various tumours to mask tumour cells and put the immune system into a dormant state. The secretion of GDF-15 by the tumour has been shown to prevent T-killer cell migration into the tumour and suppress the proinflammatory T-cell function and adaptive immune responses in the tumour microenvironment. GDF-15 and its receptor play a still far from fully understood role in other processes as diverse as obesity and cachexia. Overall, it is thought to be the reason why currently available cancer immune therapies often do not work as desired. By neutralising the protein GDF-15, Visugromab promises to ensure a higher success rate. The scientific work on the mode of action in tumour diseases comes from Jörg Wischhusen and Hermann Einsele from the University Hospital in Würzburg, who have described GDF-15 as a biomarker for tumour development, metastasis, and immune modulation.
"The success of our Series C financing, based on strong clinical data, is a further validation that visugromab is emerging as a new anti-cancer immunotherapeutic drug with the potential to transform the immuno-oncology landscape," said Dr Phil L'Huillier, CEO at CatalYm. " We deeply value the commitment of our new and existing investors, which will enable further clinical development, moving our lead program towards pivotal studies."
Proceeds from the financing round will fund the expansion of CatalYm's Phase II development programme for visugromab. This expansion is based on efficacy and durability results in patients with advanced tumour disease and continued positive clinical responses in the ongoing GDFATHER-II (GDF-15 Antibody-mediaTed Human Effector cell Relocation Phase II) trial. The trial is evaluating visugromab in combination with an anti-PD1 antibody in patients with advanced solid tumours that are relapsed/refractory to prior anti-PD1/PD-L1 treatment. Currently, the trial is recruiting patients at clinical sites in Europe and the United States. First data from the phase II clinical trial programme are expected in early 2023.
In conjunction with the closing of the Series C financing, Dr Jonathan Tobin, Partner at Brandon Capital, and Dr Andreas Wallnoefer, Partner at Jeito Capital, from the new lead investors will join CatalYm's Board of Directors.
For Jeito Capital, this is the first investment in a German biotech company. Dr Andreas Wallnoefer stated that: "Visugromab has shown promising results in the early studies in enhancing the immune response to fight cancer, leading to several impressive responses in patients with advanced tumours and last-line treatments. The drug has great potential to improve patients' lives and become part of cancer immunotherapies due to its important efficacy profile and good tolerability."