Asher Bio Launches With $ 55 Million Series A Funding Led By Third Rock Ventures To Discover And Develop Highly Specific Immunotherapies Using New Technology Platform
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA – (COMMERCIAL THREAD) –Asher Biotherapeutics, a biotechnology company developing precisely targeted immunotherapies for cancer and other diseases, today announced its launch following a $ 55 million Series A funding led by Third Rock Ventures with participation of Boxer Capital of Tavistock Group, Invus, Y Combinator and MBC Biolabs. Asher Bio is pioneering a new approach to immunotherapy, called cis-targeting, which seeks to selectively activate only those immune cell types that elicit a desired immune response, thereby addressing the inherent limitations of immunotherapies attributable to their heterogeneous effects on several types of cells.
Jeffrey Tong, PhD, Partner at Third Rock Ventures, said: “Following a comprehensive assessment of the cytokine immunotherapy landscape, Third Rock is delighted to partner with Asher Bio and its unique approach, which we believe , has revolutionary potential to generate several differentiated product candidates. ”
“Asher Bio has assembled a strong team, including two world-class university founders in Ton Schumacher and Robert Schreiber, to implement a grand vision – to develop a whole new class of biotherapeutics to harness the therapeutic power of cytokine immunotherapies. The company is well positioned to bring its primary oncology program, AB248, to the clinic in 2022 while creating a pipeline of additional products in several disease areas, ”said Reid Huber, PhD, partner at Third Rock Ventures.
Achieve high selectivity towards immune cell types with cis-targeting
“Therapies based on natural cytokines, costimulatory agonists and checkpoint inhibitors have demonstrated significant efficacy, but are often limited by pleiotropic effects: antagonistic signaling and systemic toxicities due to their interaction with receptors over a wide range. spectrum of cell types, ”said Asher Bio. co-founder, Ton Schumacher, PhD.
Craig Gibbs, PhD, CEO of Asher Bio, said: “Our founders came up with the idea to focus on designing immunotherapies that would only affect defined immune cell subtypes rather than to try to localize the effect of inherently non-specific molecules. Our solution aims to provide product candidates with superior selectivity and broad applications on multiple tumor types, as well as the treatment of infections and autoimmune diseases. ”
The Company’s Cis-Cis Immunotherapies Address the Challenge of Pleiotropy by Requiring the Engagement of Two Molecules in cis on the same cell for activation, an immunomodulatory receptor and a cell-type specific marker. Without the two targets present on the same cell, therapies are inactive, thus reducing unwanted effects.
“We have set up a systematic process to discover new cis-cis therapies that can be universally applied to multiple immunomodulatory molecules and target cell types,” said Andy Yeung, PhD, co-founder and chief technology officer of Asher Bio. “We first identify the immune cell subtype we want to target, then we attenuate the immunomodulator’s affinity to receptors for all cell types, and then we create a fusion protein to direct therapy only. towards the type of immune cells desired, and finally we optimize the pharmacological properties.
The main IL-2 cis-cis program is followed by a diversified pipeline
The most advanced development candidate in Asher Bio’s pipeline is AB248, a modified form of IL-2 designed to be specific for CD8 + effector T cells. Native IL-2 is a clinically approved immunotherapy whose use has been limited due to pronounced side effects.
“Recent information has pointed out that the anti-tumor efficacy of IL-2 is primarily mediated by CD8 + effector T cells, while counterproductive and unwanted activities are transmitted by other cells expressing the IL- receptor. 2, such as regulatory T cells, NK cells, and endothelial cells. AB248, which was designed to target CD8 + effector T cells only, has demonstrated superior selectivity and efficacy in several preclinical models and is expected to enter trials for the treatment of solid tumors in 2022, ”said Ivana Djuretic, PhD, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Asher Bio.
Beyond AB248, Asher Bio’s pipeline includes a cis-cis IL-2 designed to specifically stimulate CAR-T cells, a cis cis STAT3 activating cytokine for cancer and a cis Treg cytokine for treatment. autoimmune diseases.
Founders and directors of the company
Asher Bio’s team of founders, officers and board of directors brings together leaders with accomplished backgrounds in academia and the biotech industry and with extensive experience in the discovery, development of drug development and marketing from companies such as Celgene, Celera, Forty Seven, Genentech, Gilead, GSK, Infinity, Incyte, Merck and Pfizer.
- Craig Gibbs, PhD, MBA, Chairman and CEO and member of the board of directors
- Ivana Djuretic, PhD, Co-founder, scientific director and member of the board of directors
- Kyle Elrod, CEO
- David Kaufman, MD, PhD, Interim Head, Clinical and Translational Research
- Sheldon Okada, Vice-President, Commercial and Business Strategy
- Andy Yeung, PhD, Co-founder and CTO
- Robert Schreiber, PhD, academic co-founder and professor of pathology and immunology at the Washington University School of Medicine.
- Ton Schumacher, PhD, academic co-founder and principal member of the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) and professor of immunotechnology at the University of Leiden
- Reid Huber, PhD, Member of the Board of Directors and Partner at Third Rock Ventures
- Jeffrey Tong, PhD, Member of the Board of Directors and Partner at Third Rock Ventures
About Asher Bio
Organic Asher is a biotechnology company that develops precisely targeted immunotherapies for cancer and other diseases. Our cis-targeting platform aims to enable the selective activation of specific immune cell types, by addressing the limitations inherent in otherwise pleiotropic immunotherapies that act on multiple cell types. Our approach has the potential to precisely target different immune mediators against a range of target immune cell types and create world-class immunotherapies in cancer, autoimmune and infectious diseases. Asher Bio is backed by Third Rock Ventures and is located in South San Francisco. For more information, please visit www.asherbio.com and follow us on Twitter @AsherBio and on LinkedIn.