NEW YORK – UK-based Achilles Therapeutics on Thursday said that it has raised £52.7 million ($69.6M) in a Series C financing round that it will put toward advancing its pipeline of personalized T-cell therapies for solid tumors, including non-small cell lung cancer and melanoma.
OrbiMed, Boxer Capital of Tavistock Group, and others participated in the financing round as new investors. Existing investors, including RA Capital, Syncona, Forbion, Invus, Perceptive Advisors, and Redmile Group, also participated.
The company's personalized T-cell therapies are designed to target unique clonal neoantigens expressed on patients' cancer cells. To identify these neoantigens, Achilles uses a combination of DNA sequencing and its Peleus bioinformatics platform. Targeting clonal neoantigens — which are expressed across all cancer cells — as opposed to subclonal or branch mutations, the company said, enables its therapies to attack the entirety of a patient's cancer while sparing normal tissues.
Currently, the firm is evaluating its personalized T-cell therapies for safety and preliminary efficacy in two Phase I/II clinical trials, dubbed Thetis and Chiron, for which the company expects to share interim data in the first half of 2021. The Thetis trial is assessing autologous, neoantigen-targeting T-cell therapies for patients with metastatic or recurrent melanoma, and the Chiron study is assessing the same approach as a treatment for patients with advanced, unresectable, and metastatic NSCLC.
The melanoma trial will enroll an estimated 20 patients, while the NSCLC trial will enroll 50. Both trials will be looking at patients' change in baseline tumor size as indicators of preliminary efficacy.
In addition to advancing the clinical network for these trials, Achilles plans to use the funds from the oversubscribed Series C financing to expand its pre-clinical therapeutic pipeline in other solid tumor indications, as well as to broaden its manufacturing capabilities.