2021-03-17| FundingTechnology

Acepodia Raises $47 Million Funding to Nurture its Next-Gen, oNK Cell Therapy Assets

by Rajaneesh K. Gopinath
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What if we could enhance the potential of Natural Killer (NK) cell therapies which offer key advantages over CAR T-cell therapies? Acepodia, a privately held US-Taiwan biotech, develops next-generation, off-the-shelf therapies against solid tumors and hematological cancers.

On March 16th, it announced raising $47 million in Series B financing supported by Ridgeback Capital Investments, 8VC, DEFTA Partners, and Taiwan-based CDIB Capital Healthcare. The funding will be used to advance its lead candidate, ACE1702, and other NK and gamma delta T cell therapies in the pipeline.

“This second capital raise for Acepodia represents a strong vote of confidence by our investors in our highly differentiated approach to cell therapy, particularly with NK cells, and in the Company’s potential to provide superior treatment options for patients with cancer,” said Sonny Hsiao, Ph.D., Founder, and CEO of Acepodia.


Challenges of CAR T Cell Therapy

Recently, CAR T-cell therapies have emerged as a promising cellular immunotherapy approach. With four FDA-approved drugs and an array of candidates in numerous trials, it is becoming a standard of care for treating several hematological cancers. Yet, there are several downsides.

CAR T-cell therapies involve reinjecting lab-altered, patient-derived T cells to eliminate cancers. However, not everyone responds to the treatment, and many suffer from CAR T cell toxicities. Allogeneic CAR T cells derived from donors have also resulted in life-threatening complications like graft-versus-host disease. Besides, these treatments are expensive and take longer to manufacture.


Next-Generation NK Cell Therapies

Contrarily, NK cell therapies are relatively safer, economical, and faster to produce. Different variations of this modality, such as unmodified NK cells, CAR-engineered NK (CAR-NK) cells, and NK cells coupled with modifications, are presently evaluated in clinical trials.

Acepodia develops next-generation, allogeneic NK cell therapies using its proprietary antibody-cell conjugation (ACC) technology platform which conjugates cancer-targeting antibodies to its proprietary, off-the-shelf NK cells (oNK cells). Acepodia claims that candidates designed with its ACC technology have shown promise in early studies.

Its lead candidate ACE1702 is the first antibody-conjugated NK cell therapy in clinical development for treating HER2-expressing solid tumors. In August 2020, the company dosed the first patient in the Phase 1 trial of ACE1702. Additionally, it has an ACC-γδ T cell therapy and two other ACC-oNK cell therapy candidates in its pipeline.

“Accessible and effective allogeneic, off-the-shelf cell therapies will be an important part of next-generation cancer therapy. With our discipline and capital efficiency, we are well-positioned to execute on our corporate objectives, including the continued clinical development of these therapies, including our lead candidate, ACE1702, for the treatment of solid tumors, and execution of future clinical trial initiations for our promising preclinical portfolio of NK and NK-like gamma delta T cell therapy candidates,” added Sonny Hsiao.

Related Article: Massachusetts Cancer Startup to Fund Mission of Drugging the Undruggable with $107M Series C Round

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