2022-06-15| Funding

Dren Bio Draws $65 Million, Aiming for Phase 1 of ADCC Lead

by Joy Lin
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California-based Dren Bio has attracted $65 million in a Series B financing round, bringing the company’s total capital raised to over $156 million. The funds will help prepare the company for their first Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating their lead antibody-based candidate, as well the development of their Targeted Myeloid Engager and Phagocytosis platform. 

The Series B round was co-led by Aisling Capital and HBM Healthcare Investments, with participation from new investors Pfizer, ArrowMark Partners and Revelation Partners. All current insider investors SR One, 8VC, Taiho Ventures, BVF Partners, Mission BioCapital and Alexandria Ventures also participated, amongst others. 


An ADCC and a Bispecific Antibody


Dren Bio’s lead program, DR-01, works via antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC). It is an antibody that attaches to a subset of immune cells that are the underlying cause of certain blood cancers, allowing the malignant cells to be identified and destroyed by another effector cell of the immune system. 

DR-01 will be investigated in a Phase 1 in patients with Large Granular Lymphocytic leukemia or cytotoxic lymphomas in mid-2022. 

The company’s second program, DR-02, revolves around their Targeted Myeloid Engager and Phagocytosis platform. The platform generates bispecific antibodies that encourage direct engagement of myeloid and cancer cells and stimulation of myeloid cells to release cytokines and chemokines to combat the immunosuppressive effects of the tumor microenvironment.   

DR-02 may also stimulate phagocytosis and destruction of tumor cells, and aid cross-representation of tumor neoantigens and activation of tumor-specific T-cells to support the immune response against cancer. 

Initial development candidates have been well-tolerated in non-human primates, said the company. 

Related article: Big Success without Big Pharma: Making Deals as a Small Firm 


Finding Bispecific Antibodies for Pfizer


In January, Dren Bio announced a research and licensing deal with Pfizer, which will see the companies collaborate on selected oncology target programs focusing on Dren Bio’s bispecific antibody platform. 

Under the terms of the agreement, Dren Bio received a $25 million upfront payment from Pfizer, and has the potential to earn over $1 billion in milestones. In return, Pfizer acquired the right to nominate multiple oncology targets to license from Dren Bio. The drug giant will also be wholly responsible for the development and commercialization for selected candidates.

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