Norwegian biotech Targovax has raised about €21 million in a private placement as it works to advance prostate cancer vaccine TG01 and other programs against a variety of cancers.
Earlier this year, the biotech reported that TG01, a peptide-based cancer vaccine targeting RAS mutations, posted a two-year survival rate of 68% in resected pancreatic cancer patients when paired with the adjuvant GM-CSF. Historical two-year survival rates for the patients are between 30% and 53%, according to the company.
At the time, the biotech’s chief medical officer, Magnus Jäderberg, acknowledged that the phase 1/2 study lacked a control arm and tested the vaccine in a small number of patients.
Still, investors sent the company’s shares up by more than 40%, and now Targovax is looking to keep its momentum going. On Friday, the company announced that it placed 10,000,000 new shares at NOK 20 each, equal to about €21 million.
With the funds, the biotech will finance five data readouts through 2018, three of which are planned for the second half of this year. The placement “attracted strong interest from both existing shareholders as well as new high quality investors,” the biotech said in its announcement.
Targovax also plans chemistry, manufacturing and control development work in “preparation for future pivotal clinical studies,” it said.
RAS mutations are found in more than 85% of pancreatic cancer cases, 50% of colorectal cancer cases and 20% to 30% of all cancers, according to the biotech’s website. Targovax also has preclinical and early-stage clinical candidates in the works to treat melanoma, mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.
Meanwhile, the cancer vaccines field has been experiencing a recent surge in activity after late-stage failures previously cast doubt on its future. Many developers are now partnering their candidates with checkpoint inhibitors to see whether the two can create a complementary effect against cancer.
Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo and Merck’s Keytruda, for instance, are in more than a dozen cancer vaccine combo trials each, according to a new report (reg. req.) from EP Vantage.