The UK-based biopharmaceuticals developer raised £17.5m ($28.7m) in a series A financing round in which Astellas Venture Management - the finance wing of Japan's Astellas Pharma - joined existing backers Imperial Innovations and Sofinnova Partners as an investor.
Crescendo’s business is based on its “Crescendo Mouse” platform, which it uses to produce antibody fragments that it hopes to turn into drugs.
The idea is that these small antibody sections lack the shortcomings of larger monoclonal antibodies and indeed similar fragment molecules produced in camelid or shark-based systems, which is the established approach.
CEO Mike Romanos told BioPharma-Reporter.com that: “Single domain therapeutic antibody fragments are the smallest and most robust and their use is well precedented, both Ablynx and GSK/Domantis have taken multiple candidates into clinical development.”
“However, unlike either Ablynx’s llama-based platform or Domantis' in vitro technology, our transgenic mouse technology produces fragments that are both fully human and in vivo generated for excellent potency and biophysical properties.”
Crescendo will use the funds raised through the financing to further its oncology and inflammation development programmes, with the latter project focused on a topical psoriasis treatment which could be “transformational” for suffers according to Romanos.
“Treatment of psoriasis has changed dramatically in the last few years with the advent of effective, antibody-based medicines. The problem, however, is that these drugs are immunosuppressive and prone to side effects.
“In contrast with these large, injection only molecules, our fragment drug candidate is small, meaning it can both be delivered through the skin and has a very short half-life in the circulation.”
In oncology, Crescendo’s plan is to develop multivalent tumour-targeting T-cell engagers that – as a result of Crescendo VH fragments’ robustness and ability to be joined together readily - can be more easily used to explore and manufacture optimal drug designs.