NYC-based Rgenix raises $33 million to advance cancer immunotherapy
- New York-based Rgenix has raised $33 million in Series B financing, aiming to move their main drug candidate into Phase 1 testing by the second half of this year.
- GlaxoSmithKline had previously worked on the drug, a cancer immunotherapy known as RGX-104, but walked away from further development because of side effects.
- Novo A/S and Sofinnova Partners led the financing and two new members from those companies will join Rgenix's board of directors.
While there have been other larger biotech financings recently, Rgenix's is of note given the lack of biotech start-ups in New York City.
Rgenix was started by CEO Masoud Tavazoie and his two brothers, Sohail and Saeed. The company was originally incubated at the Rockefeller Univeristy and subsequently spun off.
RGX-104 is a small molecule immunotherapy which targets the liver X receptor, a pathway Rgenix claims can reverse immune evasion and prompt anti-tumor activity. Phase 1 testing will evaluate RGX-104 as a single treatment agent and as part of combination therapy with checkpoint inhibitor drugs.
Although no LXR-activating drug has moved beyond phase 1 a, Masoud Tavazoie is confident that RGX-104 has a good shot.
“This financing validates the potential of our lead immunotherapy RGX-104, which will be entering clinical trials this fall, and also demonstrates the strength of our discovery platform, developed in the laboratory of Rgenix co-founder Dr. Sohail Tavazoie at The Rockefeller University," said Tavazoie.
While the financing will give Rgenix a significant influx of cash, the biotech will have to prove it can address the side effect issues which prompted GSK to out-license the drug.