- Alpine Immune Sciences has successfully raised $48 million in a Series A financing round, giving the Seattle-based biotech funding to continue development of immunotherapies aimed at cancer and autoimmune diseases, the company said Monday.
- Former Dendreon CEO Mitch Gold founded Alpine Immune in 2015 with seed money from Alpine BioVentures, a biotech hedge fund which he helped create. OrbiMed Advisors led the Series A, along with Frazier Healthcare Partners and Alpine BioVentures.
- At Dendreon, Gold led the development of the cancer cell therapy Provenge (sipuleucel-T), which won FDA approval for treatment of prostate cancer in 2010. However, Dendreon struggled to market the drug and filed for bankruptcy four years later, before being acquired by Valeant Pharmaceuticals. (Gold left Dendreon in 2012.)
Gold will serve as executive chairman and acting CEO of Alpine Immune and will be joined by fellow Alpine Bioventures partner Jay Venkatesan, who will become president.
Alpine Immune is working to develop immunotherapies based around a platform technology which the company says can interact with multiple targets simultaneously using a single molecule. The platform is designed to either ramp up or dial back immune responses, possibly helping treat tumor growth or autoimmune diseases.
Based on this research, Alpine has also developed a related technology to enhance cell therapies. Kite Pharma paid $5 million upfront last October for an exclusive license to two programs based on this capability, with the potential for an additional $530 million in milestone payments. Kite hopes to further engineer the two programs into CAR-T and T-cell receptor candidates.
In announcing the Series A, OrbiMed partner Peter Thompson touted the uniqueness of Alpine's approach to immunotherapy. "AIS is unique in its ability to impact multiple immune system interactions simultaneously at the critical junction of cellular communication known as the ’Immune Synapse," Thompson said.
Alpine will certainly need a way to differentiate itself from an increasingly crowded field as dozens of companies are working to pursue other immunotherapies, such as checkpoint inhibitors or CAR-T therapies.