Lead program is a Nectin-4-targeting ADC with potential across a range of hard to treat cancers
Duisburg, Germany – Marseille, France, 22 November 2019: Emergence Therapeutics announced today that is has entered into a definitive financing agreement with a syndicate of leading European life science investors. In this Seed Round, founding investor Kurma Partners was joined by Bpifrance through its InnoBio 2 fund, Gründerfonds Ruhr, Heidelberg Pharma Research GmbH, High-Tech Gründerfonds, idinvest Partners, Kurma Partners and NRW.Bank.
The investment will be used to develop Emergence’s lead program an antibody-drug-conjugate (ADC) which uses innovative linker and payload technology to target Nectin-4, an important and validated target for a broad range of cancers.
To support the development of its lead program, Emergence has entered into a licensing and collaboration agreement with the SATT Sud-Est, the regional tech transfer office for the Aix-Marseille Université, Centre National de la Recherche Scientific (CNRS) and the Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (Inserm) through which the Company has been granted exclusive rights to a set of anti-Nectin-4 antibodies from the lab of Dr. Marc Lopez at the Cancer Research Center in Marseille, France, who discovered the nectin family of proteins. The SATT Sud-Est is also providing financial support to the Emergence program.
Emergence has further entered into a licensing and collaboration agreement with Heidelberg Pharma Research GmbH, a subsidiary of Heidelberg Pharma AG (FWB : HPHA). Through this agreement Emergence has access to Heidelberg Pharma’s proprietary amanitin-based payloads and corresponding linkers (ATAC Technology). Heidelberg Pharma Research is also a founding investor in Emergence.
Nectin-4 has been clinically validated as an ADC target by enfortumab vedotin, recently approved for the treatment of urothelial cancers by the US Food and Drug Administration. Nectin-4 is highly expressed by many different cancers and has a very limited expression in healthy tissues, especially compared to many other ADC targets. Emergence is developing a new Nectin-4 ADC with the potential to be best-in-class. ADC. It will have an improved monoclonal antibody (mAb) that expected to avoid unwanted interactions leading to off-target toxicity and limits binding to skin based nectin-4, the cause of dose limiting toxicity of enfortumab vedotin, a stable linker designed to avoid loss of toxin in the circulation and with a preferential de-conjugation in the tumor tissue and a toxin with a different mechanism of action.
In addition, Emergence is actively exploring opportunities to develop a broader pipeline of additional best- or first-in-class ADCs driven by therapeutic need.
Dr. Jack Elands, Chief Executive Officer of Emergence Therapeutics, said: “By targeting Nectin-4 with novel linker-toxin combinations we have the potential to deliver higher efficacy with lower risk of side effects combined with the ability to avoid tumor resistance and the possibility to target hard to treat cancers. With the support of founding shareholder Kurma Partners, we have brought together a group of high-profile collaborators and investors, which leaves us exceptionally well positioned to develop truly novel ADC immuno-therapeutics for cancers that are currently poorly treated.”
As part of the Seed Round Financing, Emergence has nominated Irina Staatz-Granzer as independent chairperson of the Supervisory Board. She will be joined by Peter Neubeck (vice chairperson, Kurma Partners), Rakesh Dixit (independent), Anke Caßing (High-Tech Gründerfonds), Olivier Martinez (bpifrance), Aristotelis Nastos (Gründerfonds Ruhr), Andreas Pahl (Heidelberg Pharma Research GmbH), Thierry Laugel (observer, Kurma Partners) and Marek Kozlowski (observer, NRW.Bank)