Biotherapeutics specialist Geneos Therapeutics has clinched US$17m in second-round funding to help its development of tumour neoantigen targeted personalised immunotherapies for liver cancer patients.
Led by Flerie Invest and backed by Santé Ventures, Korea Investment Partners – Global Bio Fund and INOVIO Pharmaceuticals, the investment will be used to bolster Geneos’ GT-30 Phase Ib/IIa clinical trial to evaluate the firm’s personalised cancer vaccine, GNOS-PV02.
The vaccine is used for treating patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a mutation which accounts for the majority of primary liver cancers.
Globally, liver cancers are the fourth most common cause of cancer-related death and ranked sixth in terms of annual incidence. US liver cancer deaths increased 43 percent between 2000-2016. With a five-year survival rate of 18 percent for advanced liver cancer, it is the second most deadly tumour after pancreatic cancer.
GNOS-PV02 is a tumour-specific DNA plasmid-based product designed and manufactured for each patient based on their unique tumour mutations – or neoantigens – identified by sequencing each patient’s tumour. For the expanded, 36-patient Geneos trial GNOS-PV02 will be combined with a DNA encoded cytokine IL-12 and Pembrolizum, a abPD-1 checkpoint inhibitor.
In earlier trails, Plymouth, Pennsylvania-headquartered Geneos reported tumour reduction in over half of the patients and three partial responses in the first 12 patients treated.
Geneos’ proprietary GT-EPIC neoantigen-targeting platform is based on the design and delivery of synthetic DNA plasmids and their combinations for cancer immunotherapy. The platform allows Geneos to develop bespoke therapies for each patient’s unique tumour mutations. This helps drive T-cell immune responses, capability and target a large number of neoantigens in a single formulation.
Geneos believes that these are three key differentiators that will drive the company, and the oncology space, into the next generation of personalized immunotherapies.
Dr. Ted Fjällman, a partner at Stockholm-based Flerie Invest, joined Geneos’ board as part of the deal.