Australia's EnGeneIC receives $10M in Series B round for studies of anticancer delivery tech

Depiction of an EDV nanocell--Screenshot courtesy of EnGeneIC

Australia's EnGeneIC announced the completion of a $10 million Series B round for its antibody-targeted EDV nanocell technology platform for cancer drug delivery, led by Boston's GRT Capital Partners.

In an interview, Co-CEO Jennifer MacDiarmid described the EDV nanocell as an empty sac of cytoplasm derived from a mutant bacterium. It has a strong bilayer membrane that protects the payload, she said.

The company will use the proceeds to fund clinical trials to test nanocells packaged with doxorubicin for the treatment of recurrent glioblastoma. The trials include EnGeneIC's first in the U.S., to take place in an unnamed hospital during the second quarter of 2015.

MacDiarmid said the company will benefit from its association with the unnamed "premier" hospital stateside, and that the upcoming Phase I/IIa trial will include more patients than prior Australian safety trials.

Co-CEO Himanshu Brahmbhatt told FierceDrugDelivery that the company is also in pre-IND discussions with the FDA about studies for the treatment of glioblastoma and triple negative cancers, and hopes to submit an IND by April. He is confident of the candidate's prospects to proceed stateside because of the prior Australian trials.

The injectable delivery platform reduces side effects compared to intravenous delivery because its use of bispecific ligands makes it more targeted to the tumor, he said. The EDV particles enter the tissues around the tumors by escaping through gaps in their system of blood vessels, and poor lymphatic drainage means they tend to stay there, explains a company video.

Also planned are Phase I/IIa studies of the nanocells packaged with miR-16 microRNAs for the treatment of in malignant pleural mesothelioma in collaboration with Australia's Asbestos Disease Research Institute, as well as Phase I/IIa study of personalized medicine with chemotherapeutic agents approved for the treatment of the patient's specific cancer.

Indeed MacDiarmid touted the delivery platform's payload flexibility, saying "it allows tailor-made medicine, or mixing and matching of modalities." For example, the EDV particles can delivery siRNA to silence the gene responsible for making the multiple drug resistance protein, which pumps drugs out of cancerous cell, according to the company video.

Other participants in the Series B round were Foley Ventures and various partners of Foley & Lardner. EnGeneIC also opened an office in New York and named Anjan Chatterji executive vice president of corporate development.

- read the release

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