Swiss cancer vaccine company Amal raises €2.75 million

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Geneva-based cancer vaccine company Amal Therapeutics has raised a Series A round of 3 million Swiss francs (€2.75 million), the company announced Wednesday. The money will go toward preclinical development activities.

Their primary vaccine right now is for colorectal cancer, though that could be the prelude to several other treatments. According to a press release, the vaccine can “generate potent long lasting anti-tumor immunity and avoid tumor immune escape.” The company is also developing its KISIMA technology platform that can “stimulate multi-epitopic cytotoxic T cell-mediated immunity, induce helper T (Th) cells and promote immunological memory.”

The funding comes from German lead investor Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF) as well as Switzerland-based university spinoff investor VI Partners and German seed fund High-Tech Gründerfonds.

Dr. Madiha Derouazi, CEO and founder of Amal Therapeutics was quoted as saying that: “This Series A investment recognizes the potential of the KISIMA technology platform and the value of our scientific assets. We are now in a position to rapidly progress our lead vaccine, ATP124, for colorectal cancer into the clinic and continue to develop our pipeline in other cancer indications. I look forward to working with the Board to make Amal Therapeutics a leading innovator in the field of immunotherapies.”

Cancer vaccines: a growing industry

Induction of an immune response: dendritic cells process an antigen into peptides called epitopes, that are presented on MHC class I or II molecules to cytotoxic and helper T cells, respectively. (image and caption, Amal Therapeutics)
Induction of an immune response: dendritic cells process an antigen into peptides called epitopes, that are presented on MHC class I or II molecules to cytotoxic and helper T cells, respectively. (image and caption, Amal Therapeutics)

Amal is hardly the first company to deal with cancer vaccines, but it is a growing market with companies focused on different kinds of vaccines. Reportsnreports estimates 27% annual growth for the industry through 2019, taking up a greater chunk of the global $57 billion vaccines industry.

Several startups in the field have been born out of the medical schools of major research universities. Harvard-MIT startup Neon Therapeutics raised $55 million in September 2015 for its neoantigen-based treatment. SF-based Gritstone Oncology raised $102 million just a month later. A Cuban vaccine for lung cancer, CimaVax, is apparently now being tested for the US market.

For Amal’s investors, they see big opportunities coming from behind to focus on colorectal cancer and the company’s platform.

“We believe that the KISIMA technology is superior to many other tumor vaccine technologies, both as a stand-alone treatment and in combination with other vaccines or immuno-oncology treatment modalities,” said VI Partners’ Dr. Diego Braguglia in a statement. “I’m pleased to be joining the current seasoned investors and support the team of Amal in moving its technology into the clinic.”

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