Tacalyx, a spin-out of the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Colloids and Interfaces, will use the proceeds to advance its discovery platform, progress obtained leads towards candidate selection and start its pre-clinical development.
As tumor markers, TACAs are considered highly innovative targets for anticancer therapies due to their specific expression on a wider variety of tumor cells. At the same time TACAs drive tumor virulence and therefore their masking and/or down-regulation would compromise the vital functions of the tumor cell. However, because of TACAs’ low immunogenicity, the generation of antibodies against them is a challenging task and requires innovative tools as well as extensive knowledge of the employed technology.
Tacalyx’s discovery platform will allow the identification and validation of TACAs followed by the generation of leads against these difficult targets, for the implementation of novel immunotherapies that trigger an anti-cancer response more efficiently. The company combines the unique ability to synthesize sufficient amounts of ultra-pure and highly complex TACA structures with its analysis and screening capabilities and its experience in successful generation of mAb leads against non-peptidic targets.
Tacalyx secured access to licenses and the know-how from Max-Planck-Innovation GmbH to the underlying technology and related discoveries made by its scientific co-founders, Prof. Dr. Peter H. Seeberger, Director at the MPI for Colloids and Interfaces, and world leading expert in glycosciences, and Dr. Oren Moscovitz, Group leader at the MPI for Colloids and Interfaces and an expert in glyco-biology and glyco-oncology. Seeberger’s and Moscovitz’s scientific discoveries in the fields of tumor glycoscience and glycan targeting antibody generation gave rise to Tacalyx’s proprietary platform with supplementary financial support from technology transfer funds of Max-Planck-Society.
Dr. Peter Sondermann, CEO of Tacalyx, said: “This financing, by highly experienced life sciences and technology investors, represents an important validation of our platform and development strategy and will help to position us at the forefront of this breakthrough approach. Besides establishing the company and our discovery platform for lead generation, we will use these funds to explore relevant TACA biology in detail. We will also further assess and characterize our first lead antibodies and their functional role in treating cancer. Following which in vivo pharmacology studies evaluating the safety and efficacy of our lead antibodies will provide additional functional validation to progress at least one lead molecule to clinical development.”
Dr. Detlev Mennerich, Investment Director at Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, said: “We are pleased to have built this syndicate of leading investors to advance our mission of investing in ground-breaking therapeutics-focused biotechnology companies that drive innovation in biomedical research. Anti-TACA antibody generation requires sophisticated knowledge to produce specific high-affinity binders to TACAs. Tacalyx’s synthetic TACA chemistry, its understanding of TACA biology and ability to generate and characterize anti-TACA antibodies against these low immunogenic targets will enable the Company to realize their significant potential as treatments for multiple cancers.”
Ulrich Mahr, Member General Management of Max Planck Innovation, said: “We are very pleased that together with Prof. Seeberger and Dr. Moscovitz we were able to attract both an experienced management and this syndicate of leading investors enabling the Company to build on and advance a highly innovative therapeutic approach to address cancer based on the longstanding experience and technology developed at the MPI for Colloids and Interfaces. This will contribute to our mission of efficiently translating inventions and know-how developed at the various Max-Planck-Institutes into innovative products and services for the benefit of society.”
In conjunction with the financing, Dr. Lena Krzyzak (High-Tech Gründerfonds), Ulrich Mahr (Max Planck Innovation), Dr. Detlev Mennerich (Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund), Dr. Peter Neubeck (Kurma Partners, Idinvest Partners), Dr. Sebastian Pünzeler (coparion) and Karlheinz Schmelig (Creathor) will join Tacalyx’s board of directors alongside Prof. Dr. Peter H. Seeberger (MPI for Colloids and Interfaces).
Tacalyx is a private oncology company focused on the discovery and development of Tumor Associated Carbohydrate Antigen (TACA) antibodies to treat cancer. TACAs are formed during malignant transformation in a microevolutionary process. The expression of TACAs is elevated in many cancer cell types which makes TACAs attractive potential targets for cancer treatment by harnessing and directing the natural immune response. Tacalyx is developing its proprietary technology platform to exploit TACAs as novel targets for cancer therapy.
Tacalyx was founded by a highly experienced team with a track record of successful drug development in multiple companies including Glycart, SuppreMol, Baxalta, Vaxxilon, GlyXera, and GlycoUniverse. The Company’s founders include BIVF (represented by Dr. Detlev Mennerich, Investment manager), Dr. Peter Sondermann CEO of Tacalyx, Prof. Dr. Peter H. Seeberger, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces, Dr. Oren Moscovitz, Group leader at the MPI for Colloids and Interfaces and Max-Planck-Society (represented by Ulrich Mahr, member of the general management of Max Planck Innovation).
Tacalyx is headquartered in Berlin, Germany and is backed by leading European life sciences and technology investors Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF), Kurma Partners, High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), coparion, Creathor Ventures and Idinvest Partners.
For more information on Tacalyx, please visit the company’s website at www.tacalyx.com
About Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund
Created in 2010, the Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund GmbH (BIVF) invests in ground-breaking therapeutics-focused biotechnology companies to drive innovation in biomedical research. BIVF is searching for significant enhancements in patient care through pioneering science and its clinical translation by building long-term relationships with scientists and entrepreneurs. BIVF’s focus is to target unprecedented therapeutic concepts addressing high medical needs in immuno-oncology, in regenerative medicine or infectious diseases. These may include novel platform technologies to address so far undruggable targets, new generation vaccines and/or new biological entities, such as oncolytic virotherapy as well as Digital Health. BIVF takes an active role with its portfolio companies – delivering significant added value through its own extensive drug discovery, scientific and managerial expertise. BIVF has €250 million under management and currently supervises a portfolio of 25 companies.
About Kurma Partners
Founded in July 2009, Kurma Partners is a key European player with offices in Paris and Munich in the financing of innovation in healthcare and biotechnology, from pre-creation to growth capital, notably through Kurma Biofund I through III and Kurma Diagnostics, as well as via strategic partnerships with prestigious European research and medical institutions. The new fund Kurma Biofund III invests in private companies, addressing high unmet medical and patient needs with a portfolio of approximately twelve to fifteen companies, 40% of which will be early stage financings and company creations like Tacalyx. www.kurmapartners.com
About High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF)
High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) is a seed investor that finances high-potential, tech-driven start-ups. With EUR 895.5 million in total investment volume across three funds and an international network of partners, HTGF has already helped forge more than 550 start-ups since 2005. Driven by their expertise, entrepreneurial spirit and passion, its team of experienced investment managers and start-up experts help guide the development of young companies. HTGF’s focus is on high-tech start-ups in a range of sectors, including software, media, internet, hardware, automation, health care, chemistry and life sciences.
To date, external investors have injected over EUR 2 billion into the HTGF portfolio via more than 1,400 follow-on financing rounds. HTGF has also successfully sold interests in more than 100 companies. Investors in this public-private partnership include the Federal Ministry For Economic Affairs and Energy, the KfW Capital, and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft e.V., as well as the companies ALTANA, BASF, BAYER, B.Braun, Boehringer Ingelheim, Robert Bosch, BÜFA, CEWE, Deutsche Post DHL, Dräger, Drillisch AG, EVONIK, EWE AG, FOND OF, Haniel, Hettich, Knauf, Körber, LANXESS, media + more venture Beteiligungs GmbH & Co. KG, PHOENIX CONTACT, Postbank, QIAGEN, RWE Generation SE, SAP, Schufa, Schwarz Gruppe, STIHL, Thüga, Vector Informatik, WACKER and Wilh. Werhahn KG.
coparion provides venture capital to accelerate momentum and growth. With a current active fund of EUR 275 million coparion has the means to do so. coparion supports entrepreneurial vision with know-how, but without intervening in daily business operations. Thanks to in-depth experience in venture capital and in building companies, the coparion team discerns potentials and opens up new perspectives. coparion only invests with co-investors. The fund invests up to EUR 10m per company, usually in several financing rounds of EUR 1-5m each. Investment focus is on German companies in the start-up and early growth phase. coparion is based in Cologne and Berlin.
About Creathor Ventures
Creathor Ventures invests in technology-oriented companies that drive the personalization and digitalization of healthcare, and the automation of industry and business. The regional focus is on Germany and Switzerland. From its locations in Bad Homburg and Zurich, the 15-strong team currently supports over 30 tech and healthcare companies. Over the past 30 years, the management team has financed over 200 companies as lead or co-lead investors. More than 20 companies have been listed on international stock exchanges. Creathor Ventures currently manages a fund volume of over 230 million euros.
About Idinvest Partners
Idinvest Partners is a leading European mid-market private equity firm. With €8bn under management, the firm has developed several areas of expertise including innovative startup venture capital transactions; mid-market private debt, i.e. single-tranche, senior and subordinated debt; primary and secondary investment and private equity advisory services. Founded in 1997, Idinvest Partners used to belong to the Allianz Group until 2010, when it branched out as an independent firm. In January 2018, Idinvest Partners became a subsidiary of Eurazeo, a leading global investment company, with a diversified portfolio of €17bn in assets under management, including approximately €11bn from investment partners, invested in over 350 companies.
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