CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—ImmusanT, Inc. has announced a successfulround of financing, reporting a total of $20 million raised in a Series Afinancing from Vatera Healthcare Partners LLC to support and advance thedevelopment of ImmusanT's immunotherapeutic vaccine Nexvax2, companiondiagnostic and monitoring tool for celiac disease. The money raised will fundthe company's Nexvax2 therapeutic and diagnostic development plan to the pointof demonstrating proof-of-concept. The company anticipates the initiation ofits next clinical trial in early 2012.
"There is tremendous enthusiasm for Nexvax2 from celiacpatients and clinicians who want a therapy that allows patients to resume anormal diet and return to good health and improved quality of life," Leslie J.Williams, Founder, President and CEO of ImmusanT, said in a press release. "Thefinancial backing and support of Vatera Healthcare Partners will allow us toround out our team and advance our research and development programs to bearout this hypothesis."
Nexvax2 combines a trio of proprietary peptides that elicitan immune response in celiac patients who carry the immune recognition geneHLA-DQ2, which includes about 80 percent of patients. Dr. Bob Anderson,ImmusanT's Scientific Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, was responsible fordiscovering the three peptides that cause gluten to be toxic to patients withceliac disease. Nexvax2 is designed to tolerize celiac disease patients to thetoxic effects of gluten, allowing them to have a normal diet. The treatment'ssafety, tolerability and bioactivity were established in a Phase I clinicaltrial and presented at the 2011 Digestive Disease Week.
"ImmusanT's Nexvax2 and companion diagnostic address therapidly growing number of patients diagnosed with celiac disease whose onlyoption is a strict diet that eliminates gluten," Sundar Kodiyalam, ManagingDirector of Vatera Holdings LLC, said in a press release. "At Vatera we seek toinvest in therapies that fulfill unmet medical needs and offer a significantclinical benefit to patients. We believe that ImmusanT's technology has thepotential to dramatically improve the quality of life for celiac diseasepatients," said.
The company is also working on the development of aproprietary whole-blood functional T-cell test for use as a standalonediagnostic for celiac disease as well as a monitoring tool for the therapeutic.ImmusanT's dual-track product development strategy will have clinical trialssubjects being screened using the diagnostic in addition to standard serologytests as a way to identify patients most likely to respond to Nexvax2.
SOURCE: ImmusanT press release