Pionyr Immunotherapeutics Closes Financing with Focus on Developing Antibody-based Immuno-oncology Therapeutics
Tuning the tumor microenvironment to enhance anti-tumor immune activity is viewed as the next generation of immuno-oncology
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 4, 2017 – Pionyr Immunotherapeutics Inc. (formerly Precision Immune Inc.), a company harnessing the body's antitumor immunity by fine-tuning the tumor microenvironment, announced the closing of an $8 million Series A-1 investment round. The latest investment was led by OrbiMed and SV Life Sciences, and also included Osage University Partners, Mission Bay Ventures and the company's private angel investors.
Pionyr's Myeloid Tuning™ technology is based on the discovery that altering the tumor microenvironment to favor immune-activating cells over immune-suppressing cells enhances the body's ability to combat cancer, particularly in combination with checkpoint inhibitors.
"Our technology represents the third generation of immuno-oncology, after checkpoint inhibitors and CAR-T therapies," said Co-founder Max Krummel, Ph.D., a professor at University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, and a member of Pionyr's board of directors. "We believe our approach will usher in a new wave of therapeutics with novel mechanisms of action against new targets in the tumor microenvironment, with the potential to improve treatment for many types of cancer."
Dr. Krummel, who has been making significant strides in immuno-oncology since the mid-1990s, founded Pionyr in 2015 with Sachdev Sidhu, Ph.D., formerly of Genentech and currently head of protein engineering and antibody discovery at the University of Toronto. Notably, Dr. Krummel is the co-inventor of Yervoy, the first checkpoint inhibitor, which was approved in 2011 to treat melanoma; Dr. Sidhu is a key player in early antibody phage-display technology platforms.
"Max and Dev have developed a powerful platform for fine-tuning the tumor microenvironment to enhance the immune system's response against cancer," said Steven James, Pionyr's executive chairman and interim CEO. "We are building on these capabilities to develop antibody-based therapeutics with novel antigen targets and mechanisms of action. We expect to choose development candidates and drive them to IND in the near future."
Pionyr Immunotherapeutics is led by industry veterans with deep management and immuno-oncology expertise. Mr. James, former CEO of Labrys Biologics (acquired by TEVA) and KAI Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Amgen), is joined on the leadership team by Michel Streuli, Ph.D., senior vice president of research, who previously led immuno-oncology efforts at Gilead, Merck (as early development chair for Keytruda), Schering-Plough and Organon. On the board of directors, in addition to Mr. James and Dr. Krummel, are Michael Ross, Ph.D., and Joshua Resnick, M.D., both partners at SV Life Sciences; and Leon Chen, Ph.D., venture partner at OrbiMed.
The Series A-1 financing brings the total raised since inception to nearly $10 million. The Series A and A-1 rounds included participation from a number of individual investors including Mr. James, John Freund, Yasunori Kaneko, Bill Rieflin, Stephen Hoffman and others.
About Pionyr Immunotherapeutics
Pionyr (formerly Precision Immune Inc.) is developing cancer immunotherapies that target the tumor microenvironment to enhance the body's antitumor immunity. The company is exploiting novel target discovery and antibody generation platform technologies to create the third generation of immuno-oncology therapeutics after checkpoint inhibitors and CAR-T. The company's approach, Myeloid Tuning™, is designed to enhance the immune system's anti-tumor response by altering the cellular infiltrate of the tumor microenvironment with high specificity.
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