Abalos Therapeutics announced a EUR 12 million Series A financing round establishing its operations and leadership. The Company’s objective is to develop new immuno-oncology therapeutics based on a specific arenavirus strain that preferentially infects and proliferates in cancer cells generating a strong anti-tumor immune response. The Series A round was co-led by Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF) and Gruenderfonds Ruhr, with participation from NRW.BANK and High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF). Representatives from all investors will join the company’s newly formed Supervisory Board.
Concurrent with the financing, Abalos announced the appointment of experienced entrepreneurs Dr. Marcus Kostka as Chief Executive Officer and Dr. Jörg Vollmer as Chief Scientific Officer.
“Abalos’ goal is to capture the potent immune activation and highly specific tumor tropism of the arenavirus to propel a differentiated immuno-oncology approach towards clinical evaluation,” said Dr. Marcus Kostka, CEO of Abalos Therapeutics. “After funding and supporting a range of biotechnology companies over the years, this promising technology and the chance to build a company with Jörg as a highly-experienced immunology expert made this opportunity extremely attractive.”
The proceeds from the financing will be used to advance Abalos’ arenavirus-based lead candidates towards clinical testing. The Company will develop the initial product candidates using its proprietary Fast Evolution platform, which will generate virus strains with optimized anti-tumoral properties. These candidates will be selected based on their ability to re-program the immune system to specifically and efficiently eliminate the malignant tumor tissue. The approach is based on the innovative research of immunologists Prof. Dr. Karl Lang, Chair of Immunology at the Medical Faculty, University Duisburg-Essen and Prof. Dr. Philipp Lang, Director of the Department of Molecular Medicine II, University Düsseldorf. Abalos builds on a close collaboration with the Universities Duisburg-Essen and Düsseldorf.
Dr. Aristotelis Nastos from Gründerfonds Ruhr commented: “Immuno-oncology continues to make very exciting progress, however, developing drug candidates that can more fully harness the power of the immune system remains a challenge, in particular, addressing not only the main tumor but also distant metastases. We look forward to supporting Abalos’ experienced management team and its dedicated researchers to work on an arenavirus-based solution.”
Dr. Frank Hensel, Principal at High-Tech Gründerfonds added: “Abalos Therapeutics is a great example of world class science performed at Universities in Germany. By combining this with an industry experienced leadership team a company was created which is able to develop a game-changer in the treatment of cancer.”
Dr. Marcus Kostka is a highly-seasoned industry expert bringing over 20 years and a range of experiences from Boehringer Ingelheim (BI), where he held positions defined by the ability to locate and advance innovation. Most recently, he was Venture Fund Partner at BI and held board positions at several companies and participated in the successful exits of Rigontec and ICD Therapeutics.
In his role as CSO, Dr. Jörg Vollmer brings to Abalos Therapeutics significant knowledge and experience in the areas of immunology, oncology and infectious diseases, which he obtained in various R&D and executive positions over the course of his career. Most recently, Jörg was CSO at Rigontec where he helped advance a novel immuno-oncology treatment approach into the clinic and led the company’s R&D efforts until the acquisition by MSD in 2017.