aMoon's early-stage healthtech and life sciences fund, aMoon Velocity, recently announced an initial $6 million financing round (expected to reach $15M) in Israeli Biomed startup Nectin Therapeutics, which develops next-gen immuno oncology biotherapy treatments. The funding round also saw contribution from existing investor Integra Holdings, an investment firm from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem that focuses funding on life sciences technology.
Eradicate cancer cells
Nectin Therapeutics develops novel monoclonal antibodies that inhibit the activity of the recently discovered Nectin-family proteins, which enable many cancers to go undetected while also evading the immune system's "eradicate cancer cells" protocol. The antibodies boost the immune system so it can better fight the cancers found in solid tissue or the bloodstream.
Based on early models and expression data available from patient samples relating to the antibody targets, Nectin's therapies will be relevant to most “solid” malignancies, including, but not limited to breast, lung, ovarian and colon cancers
Our immune system is usually pretty capable of handling different kinds of tumors on its own, however, many types of cancer often deploy various defensive mechanisms, essentially evading the immune system's attempts to suppress the cancer cells and fight back. By utilizing the innovative antibodies to block immune checkpoints (regulators that prevent the immune system from indiscriminately attacking cells), clinical use has shown the treatments positive effect, thus offering patients with new hope.
"We believe that new immune checkpoint inhibitors will significantly enrich the toolbox of immunotherapy treatments and enable a more effective fight against cancer, whether as an independent treatment or in combination with existing approved drugs," explains Dorit Sokolov, Managing Director at aMoon Velocity. "Immune checkpoint inhibitors have already been approved for use in the treatment of various cancerous tumors, but they are effective in a relatively small percentage of patients. We see great value in this investment to help Nectin advance and improve the potential of novel immuno-oncology antibodies."
Cancer over COVID
Nectin Therapeutics noted that the company intends to use the funds to further advance the pipeline of its lead program and previous ones towards an FDA's IND (Investigational New Drug) submission.
“We have developed a series of breakthrough products with revolutionary cancer treatment potential,” tells Dr. Pini Tsukerman, Co-Founder and Chief Scientist at Nectin Therapeutics. “Our expertise combines in-depth understanding of the evasion mechanisms of cancerous tumors from identification by the immune system together with extensive immunological knowledge. This comprehensive understanding allowed us to select unique molecules as a target for the antibodies we develop. We are currently in advanced development stages of a number of antibodies that can improve therapeutic offerings for cancer patients."
aMoon, which was founded by former Check Point co-founder Marius Nacht and serial entrepreneur Dr. Yair Schindel MD, disclosed with Geektime that although we find ourselves in the midst of global pandemic, that the fight against cancer never ends and that the financing decisions were concluded months before the Coronavirus outbreak, therefore not affecting the funding round at all.
Nectin Therapeutics was founded in 2017 by Dr. Pini Tsukerman, Co-Founder and Chief Scientist; Prof. Ofer Mandelboim from the Immunology & Cancer Research Center at the Hebrew University; and Prof. Stipan Jonjic from the Department of Histology and Embryology/Center for Proteomics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Rijeka.