Adcentrx Therapeutics bags $38m to take ADC oncology pipeline to clinical trials

By Jonathan Smith

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags ADC Antibody drug conjugate Antibody drug conjugates Cancer Oncology

The US-Chinese company Adcentrx Therapeutics has raised $38m in a Series A+ round to begin a phase 1 trial of its lead candidate antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) later this year.

The financing, which follows a $50m Series A round in 2021, was led by Eight Roads Ventures with the participation of other investors including F-Prime Capital, ABio-X, Delta Capital and Trinity Innovation Fund.

Adcentrx plans to use the new cash to enter lead oncology ADC candidate ADRX-0706 into its first clinical trial in the second half of 2023. The company also expects to advance at least one of its other pipeline programs into clinical testing each year.

"Over the last two years, we have made significant progress advancing our emerging therapeutic pipeline that implements our proprietary and differentiated technology platform,” stated Hui Li, founder and CEO of Adcentrx.

“This new round of funding from our investors will enable Adcentrx to quickly advance our safer and more efficacious conjugate therapies for patients in need. This year will be pivotal for Adcentrx, when we transition from the discovery stage into a clinical stage company."

Tackling ADC challenges

ADCs typically consist of an antibody that is attached to a chemotherapy drug via a chemical linker molecule. They are designed to allow the antibody to guide the chemotherapy drug to a tumor like a guided missile, minimizing side effects caused by the drug damaging healthy tissue.

Current ADCs come with a number of challenges, highlights Adcentrx: for example, the linker sometimes isn’t reliable enough, leading to side effects and a lack of effect on the tumor. Additionally, some cancer cells in heterogeneous tumors might be resistant to particular antibodies.

To address these limitations, Adcentrx is designing more stable linker technologies to deliver the payload to the tumor more precisely. In addition, Adcentrx designs its ADCs to harness the “bystander effect,” a phenomenon​ where the payload diffuses into and kills cancer cells next to its target, even if they weren’t hit directly by the ADC.

Adcentrx’s pipeline

In addition to ADRX-0706, Adcentrx is working on a second candidate in oncology indications and another candidate developed to treat conditions in immunology.

In February 2022, Adcentrx also kicked off a three-year partnership with the antibody specialist AvantGen to co-develop antibodies for use in novel ADCs.

ADCs in the industry

ADCs are a hot commodity in the biotech industry at the moment. One of the biggest deals in the field came in March 2023, when Pfizer acquired the ADC company Seagen​ for $43bn.

ADC-focused startups have also been closing new deals in a frenzy in the last several months, with some of the most recent including a $1bn collaboration​ between Bristol Myers Squibb and Tubulis, a €31m ($33.8m) Series A extension round​ by Adcendo and an investment by Samsung Ventures​ into Araris Biotech.

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