Biopharmaceutical Company Amunix Closes $73 Million In Funding

By Dan Anderson ● Mar 11, 2020
  • Amunix Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing prodrugs, announced it raised $73 million in an oversubscribed round of funding

Amunix Pharmaceuticals — a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing prodrugs to bring the promise of potent immune-activating biotherapeutics to patients with solid tumor cancers — announced it raised an oversubscribed $73 million Series A financing. Omega Funds led the funding with participation from existing investor Frazier Healthcare Partners and new investors Longitude Capital, Redmile Group, Polaris Partners, Casdin Capital, Two River, Venrock, and Delian Capital.

Amunix is focused on advancing a pipeline of novel T cell engagers (XPATs) and cytokines (XPACs) that are selectively activated in the tumor microenvironment and are designed to overcome toxicity and immunogenicity challenges common to both therapeutic classes. And both the XPAT and XPAC platforms utilize the company’s clinically validated XTEN technology — which has demonstrated low immunogenicity, to generate prodrugs.

With this round of funding along with the $40 million upfront payment from a Roche licensing agreement announced in January 2020, Amunix plans to advance its lead development candidate AMX-818, an XPAT T cell engager targeting HER2+ solid tumors into the clinic to progress earlier discovery stage XPAT programs and to initiate XPAC discovery work. Plus the company plans to relocate to South San Francisco later this year to better take advantage of the talent pool.

In connection with the Series A funding, Otello Stampacchia, Ph.D., Managing Director and Founder of Omega Funds; David Hirsch, M.D., Ph.D., Managing Director and Founder of Longitude Capital; and James Brush, M.D., Partner at Frazier Healthcare Partners are joining Amunix’s Board of Directors.

Ever since Amunix was founded in 2006, the company operated as a technology licensing company, forging agreements with multiple leading biopharmaceutical companies to leverage XTEN — which is a proprietary half-life extension technology, and Pro-XTEN, a next-generation prodrug technology. Pro-XTEN utilizes a protease-releasable XTEN polypeptide as a mask thus enabling localized activation of potent therapies. Plus Pro-XTEN has been clinically validated with the most advanced program utilizing the technology currently in a pivotal Phase 3 study for a non-oncology indication.

Dr. Angie You — who was appointed CEO in January 2019 – has driven the company to focus on its internal efforts on the advancement of the XPAT and XPAC platforms and the company’s proprietary pipeline. And in collaboration with Volker Schellenberger, Ph.D., Amunix’s co-founder and current President and Chief Technology Officer, Dr. You has recruited an executive team who brings immuno-oncology experience relevant to the company’s platforms as well as the necessary expertise to advance its pipeline through approval and launch.

Amunix’s leadership team also includes Mika Derynck, M.D., Chief Medical Officer (formerly Global Head for Cancer Immunotherapy, GI/GU Cancers, Angiogenesis Franchises and China Oncology Development at Genentech); Maninder Hora, Ph.D., Chief Technical Operations Officer (formerly Chief Technical Operations Officer at Nektar Therapeutics); Bryan Irving, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer (formerly Chief Scientific Officer at Five Prime Therapeutics); and Darcy Mootz, Ph.D., Chief Business Officer (formerly Chief Business Officer of ORIC Pharmaceuticals).

Key Quotes:

“The completion of our Series A financing marks a critical milestone for Amunix, as the investment affords us a significant financial runway to advance our novel pipeline of T cell engagers and cytokines targeting a spectrum of solid tumors. Biologic immune activators hold tremendous untapped promise to help many cancer patients achieve better outcomes. We are focused on making this promise a reality by leveraging our clinically validated prodrug platform to deliver T cell engager and cytokine therapies that combine potency with an augmented safety profile and unique ability to evade an undesirable immune response. Our XPAT T cell engager platform holds the potential to deliver off-the-shelf therapies capable of redirecting T cells in the body to fight solid tumors.”

-Angie You, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer at Amunix

“We are delighted to have successfully led this financing for Amunix, especially in the current market environment. We are glad to have attracted a syndicate of sophisticated, long-term investors who are familiar with this ever more important therapeutic modality. We look forward to deploying this important platform to address the limitations of other approaches in the space. We see in Amunix’s next-generation XPAT T cell engager platform a great potential to address the biggest hurdle to bringing the benefits of this class to solid tumor cancers patients: on-target off-tumor toxicity.”

-Otello Stampacchia, Ph.D., Managing Director and Founder of Omega Funds