New investment to support advancement of powerful bispecific Gamma-Delta T cell engager programs for the treatment of a broad range of cancers.
Novo Ventures, the ventures arm of Novo Holdings, today announced that it has co-led the oversubscribed $83 million (£71 million) Series C financing in LAVA Therapeutics (LAVA), a Dutch and US biotech company pioneering the development of bispecific antibodies to engage gamma-delta T cells for cancer therapies. As a result of the financing, Nanna Lüneborg, Partner at Novo Ventures, will join the company’s board of directors.
The financing will accelerate the advancement of LAVA’s immuno-oncology pipeline and its powerful bispecific gamma-delta T cell engager programs into multiple proof-of-concept clinical trials expected to start in 2021 for the treatment of solid tumours and hematologic malignancies. LAVA’s bispecific gamma-delta T cell engager platform harnesses the unique properties of these specific T cells creating a revolutionary truly tumor-targeted immunotherapy to improve outcomes for cancer patients. Gamma-delta T cells are the natural surveillance cells of the immune system, continuously patrolling the human body for the identification and targeting of tumour cells. These cells bridge the innate with the adaptive immune system and are a largely untapped opportunity in cancer treatment.
Nanna Lüneborg, Partner at Novo Ventures, and Board Director of LAVA Therapeutics said: “LAVA’s bispecific antibody approach to targeting and engaging gamma-delta T cells has the potential to greatly enhance efficacy and safety, compared to other immune-oncology targeting technologies, and offer an off-the-shelf therapy. We are impressed by the preclinical data generated by LAVA to date, which validates the company’s platform and are delighted to support such a highly experienced team as they transition into a clinical-stage organization. This investment reflects Novo Ventures’ strategy of supporting world class companies by backing seasoned entrepreneurs and promising science in areas of major unmet medical need. We are proud to be one of the most active investors in Europe and we look to continue leveraging our team’s experience and deep capital pool.”
Stephen Hurly, Chief Executive Officer of LAVA Therapeutics, said: “We believe our targeted approach, leveraging the unique features of gamma9-delta2 T cells with innovative bispecific antibodies, will deliver novel T cell-based therapies offering considerable advantages over today’s oncology treatments. We are grateful for the support we have received from Novo Ventures and look forward to benefiting from their and our new and existing investors’ insights and industry expertise.”
Novo Ventures co-led the financing alongside Sanofi Ventures, and included additional new investors: Redmile Biopharma Investments, Ysios Capital and BB Pureos Bioventures. In addition, current investors: Versant, Gilde Healthcare and MRL Ventures Fund, LLC also participated in the round.
In 2019, Novo Ventures invested approximately USD 400 million in 55 companies. As one of the most active investors in Europe, Novo Ventures’ investment strategy is to identify and invest in life science companies which are true leaders in their areas of expertise, developing innovative products that significantly advance patient care. Recent European investments in 2020 include lead investments in NodThera’s $55 million and Freeline’s $120 million financing rounds; and participation in F2G’s $60.8 million and ReViral’s $44 million financings.
About LAVA Therapeutics
LAVA Therapeutics is developing a proprietary bispecific antibody platform that engages gamma-delta T cells for the treatment of hematological and solid cancers. The company’s first-in-class immuno-oncology approach activates Vγ9Vδ2 T cells upon binding to membrane-expressed tumor targets. LAVA was founded in 2016 based on intellectual property originating from the Amsterdam University Medical Center. The company has established a highly experienced antibody research and development team located in Utrecht, the Netherlands (headquarters) and Philadelphia. For more information, please visit www.lavatherapeutics.com.