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Tacalyx, a biotech company focused on the discovery and development of novel anti-TACA (Tumor Associated Carbohydrate Antigens) cancer therapies, announced that it has successfully secured €7 million in seed funding. The funding round involves a syndicate of leading European life science and technology investors co-led by Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and Kurma Partners and joined by Idinvest Partners, High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), coparion, and Creathor Ventures.
Tacalyx, a spin-out of the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Colloids and Interfaces, will use the proceeds to advance its discovery platform, progress obtained leads towards candidate selection and start its pre-clinical development.
As tumor markers, TACAs are considered highly innovative targets for anticancer therapies due to their specific expression on a wider variety of tumor cells. At the same time TACAs drive tumor virulence and therefore their masking and/or down-regulation would compromise the vital functions of the tumor cell. However, because of TACAs’ low immunogenicity, the generation of antibodies against them is a challenging task and requires innovative tools as well as extensive knowledge of the employed technology.
Tacalyx’s discovery platform will allow the identification and validation of TACAs followed by the generation of leads against these difficult targets, for the implementation of novel immunotherapies that trigger an anti-cancer response more efficiently. The company combines the unique ability to synthesize sufficient amounts of ultra-pure and highly complex TACA structures with its analysis and screening capabilities and its experience in successful generation of mAb leads against non-peptidic targets.
Tacalyx secured access to licenses and the know-how from Max-Planck-Innovation GmbH to the underlying technology and related discoveries made by its scientific co-founders, Prof. Dr. Peter H. Seeberger, Director at the MPI for Colloids and Interfaces, and world leading expert in glycosciences, and Dr. Oren Moscovitz, Group leader at the MPI for Colloids and Interfaces and an expert in glyco-biology and glyco-oncology. Seeberger’s and Moscovitz’s scientific discoveries in the fields of tumor glycoscience and glycan targeting antibody generation gave rise to Tacalyx’s proprietary platform with supplementary financial support from technology transfer funds of Max-Planck-Society.
Dr. Peter Sondermann, CEO of Tacalyx, said: “This financing, by highly experienced life sciences and technology investors, represents an important validation of our platform and development strategy and will help to position us at the forefront of this breakthrough approach. Besides establishing the company and our discovery platform for lead generation, we will use these funds to explore relevant TACA biology in detail. We will also further assess and characterize our first lead antibodies and their functional role in treating cancer. Following which in vivo pharmacology studies evaluating the safety and efficacy of our lead antibodies will provide additional functional validation to progress at least one lead molecule to clinical development.”
Dr. Detlev Mennerich, Investment Director at Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, said: “We are pleased to have built this syndicate of leading investors to advance our mission of investing in ground-breaking therapeutics-focused biotechnology companies that drive innovation in biomedical research. Anti-TACA antibody generation requires sophisticated knowledge to produce specific high-affinity binders to TACAs. Tacalyx’s synthetic TACA chemistry, its understanding of TACA biology and ability to generate and characterize anti-TACA antibodies against these low immunogenic targets will enable the Company to realize their significant potential as treatments for multiple cancers.”
In conjunction with the financing, Dr. Lena Krzyzak (High-Tech Gründerfonds), Ulrich Mahr (Max Planck Innovation), Dr. Detlev Mennerich (Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund), Dr. Peter Neubeck (Kurma Partners, Idinvest Partners), Dr. Sebastian Pünzeler (coparion) and Karlheinz Schmelig (Creathor) will join Tacalyx’s board of directors alongside Prof. Dr. Peter H. Seeberger (MPI for Colloids and Interfaces).