Just five months after coming out of stealth, Q32 Bio is back for round two. The autoimmune player raised $60 million from the likes of OrbiMed, Atlas Venture and Abingworth to push its lead antibody through the clinic and bolster its pipeline and the technology behind it.
Its lead asset, ADX-914, is an antibody licensed from Bristol Myers Squibb that targets the IL-7 receptor, a cytokine involved in T-cell maturation. Blocking that receptor could “tune down” the activity of T cells that attack the body’s own cells as well as those that trigger B cells to make antibodies against the body’s own tissues. The new funding comes as Q32 starts a phase 1 study for the program.
As Q32 learns more about the drug, it will narrow down where it wants to go in phase 2.
“You can imagine because of the biology there are lots of places where we might go, such as T cell-driven diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease,” Q32 CEO Michael Broxson said in a previous interview. “There’s a set of diseases on the B cell side, like myasthenia gravis, and diseases where T and B cell pathology are involved, like Sjögren’s.”
Acorn Bioventures, Osage University Partners, Sanofi Ventures, the University of Colorado and Children’s Hospital Colorado Center for Innovation also got in on the series B round, which will bankroll ADX-914 through proof of mechanism, Q32 said in a statement. Its second program, ADX-097, will follow into phase 1 at the end of 2021.
ADX-097 is a fusion protein that targets the complement system, part of the innate immune response that serves as the body’s first line of defense against invading pathogens. But in autoimmune conditions, the complement system can become overactivated and target healthy tissues.
There are multiple complement inhibitors on the market and in development, including Alexion’s Soliris, but they work systemically, Broxson said. With ADX-097, Q32 aims to dial down complement activity in diseased tissue, leaving the complement system to do its job elsewhere in the body.