Leucid Bio Raises £11.5M in Series A Financing to Develop Next Generation of Innovative Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell (CAR-T) Therapies
Leucid Bio (“Leucid” or the “Company”), a biotech company pioneering next-generation cell therapies for hard-to-treat cancers, today announces that it has successfully raised £11.5 million in a Series A financing round. The investment was led by Epidarex and new investor Vulpes Investment Management, with participation from new investors 2Invest and Future Fund of the British Business Bank, and existing investor Sofinnova Partners. Proceeds from the financing will be used to initiate a Phase 1 trial of its lead candidate, LEU-011, for the treatment of platinum resistant ovarian cancer.
CAR T-cell therapy is a revolutionary technology in which the patient’s own immune cells are reprogrammed so they can recognise and destroy cancer cells. This has proven to be a powerful therapy for refractory blood cancers but has not yet been very effective for the treatment of solid cancers.
Leucid was founded to translate 20 years of pioneering CAR-T research led by Dr John Maher at King’s College London who joined the Company from inception as its Chief Scientific Officer. Leucid has developed a proprietary engine that builds upon Dr Maher’s novel CAR-T model which develops CAR-T molecules designed to be in a more natural biological configuration of cells. The early development work was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre. The Company’s technology gives properties to the CAR-Ts that enable them to consistently outperform previous generations of CAR-T therapies in pre-clinical studies; enhancing T-cell potency and generating a persistent long-term response with reduced toxicity.
Leucid’s LEU-011 programme is a NKG2D CAR T-cell therapy in pre-clinical development for the treatment of solid tumours and haematological malignancies. The NKG2D receptor is an activating immune receptor that triggers cell death upon recognition of human NKG2D ligands expressed on transformed, infected or damaged cells. LEU-011 has potential for the treatment of multiple cancer types as NKG2D ligands are expressed on more than 80% of human tumour cells.
In conjunction with the Series A financing, Ian Miscampbell, Managing Partner of Sixth Element Capital LLP, has been appointed Chair of the Board, while Martin Diggle, Portfolio Manager of Vulpes Life Science Fund will join the Board of Directors as Non-Executive Director, and Heikki Lanckriet as Board Observer for 2Invest. Epidarex’s Peter Finan currently sits on the Board as Investment Director, and Graziano Seghezzi, Managing Partner of Sofinnova, and Michael Garrison, Director at King’s College London remain as Observers to the Board.
Artin Moussavi, Chief Executive Officer of Leucid Bio, said: “We are excited to welcome new investors to Leucid Bio. With support from this high calibre syndicate, the financing will enable us to progress our lead programme, LEU-011, into clinical development. At Leucid we are developing improved CAR-T technologies aimed to overcome key challenges in CAR T-cell therapy for solid tumours, to improve treatment outcomes and save the lives of cancer patients, where current treatments are not currently proving to be as clinically meaningful as required.”
Ian Miscampbell, Chair of Leucid Bio’s Board of Directors, commented: “I am delighted to be joining as Chair of this trail-blazing Company as it moves into the clinical development phase, developing novel CAR-T therapies for patients who do not currently have a treatment option. I have been impressed by the excellent work achieved by the Leucid team and am excited to establish Leucid as a leading next generation CAR-T company.”
Peter Finan, Partner at Epidarex Capital, said: “The new financing will allow us to explore Leucid’s ground-breaking technology in a clinical setting. We remain optimistic that with the right therapeutic approach, the challenges for CAR-T therapy in a solid tumour setting can be overcome. We look forward to working closely with the Leucid team and our co-investors to realise the potential of Leucid’s technology.”
Martin Diggle, Principal at Vulpes Life Sciences, stated: “After performing extensive scientific due diligence, Vulpes is delighted to cornerstone this important fundraise to enable Leucid to advance its exciting cancer therapies. We believe Professor John Maher’s team has one of the most promising approaches to treating solid tumours in the world today and we are excited by the possibilities of its CAR-T research to date.”
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