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Abalos Therapeutics: €12 million Series A financing

Cate­gory: Venture Capi­tal
15. Octo­ber 2019

Essen, Germany — Abalos Thera­peu­tics announ­ced the closing of a €12 million Series A finan­cing round and its corpo­rate debut. The company’s goal is to deve­lop new immuno-onco­­logy thera­peu­tics. This approach is based on a speci­fic type of arena­vi­rus that prefe­ren­ti­ally infects and repli­ca­tes in cancer cells, gene­ra­ting a strong immune response against the cancer cells. The Series A round was jointly led by Boeh­rin­ger Ingel­heim Venture Fund (BIVF) and Grün­der­fonds Ruhr and included invest­ments from NRW.BANK and High-Tech Grün­der­fonds (HTGF). The newly formed Super­vi­sory Board of the company will be joined by repre­sen­ta­ti­ves of all investors.

As part of the finan­cing, Abalos further announ­ced the appoint­ment of Dr. Marcus Kostka as Chief Execu­tive Offi­cer and Dr. Jörg Voll­mer as Chief Scien­ti­fic Offi­cer. Both have many years of expe­ri­ence in corpo­rate development.

“Abalos’ goal is to leverage the potent immune acti­va­tion and highly speci­fic tumor tropism of arena­vi­ru­ses to deve­lop a diffe­ren­tia­ted immune-onco­­logy approach and vali­date it clini­cally,” said Marcus Kostka, M.D., CEO of Abalos Thera­peu­tics. “Having alre­ady supported and finan­ced a number of biotech compa­nies over the last few years, what attrac­ted me to Abalos in parti­cu­lar was the promi­sing tech­no­logy. The oppor­tu­nity to build a company toge­ther with Jörg Voll­mer, an expe­ri­en­ced immu­no­logy expert, also repres­ents an extre­mely attrac­tive opportunity.”

The funding round will enable Abalos to advance its aren­a­­vi­rus-based drug candi­da­tes into clini­cal vali­da­tion. The first product candi­da­tes are being deve­lo­ped using the company’s proprie­tary Fast Evolu­tion plat­form, which gene­ra­tes viral strains with opti­mal anti-tumor proper­ties. These candi­da­tes are selec­ted based on their poten­tial to repro­gram the immune system and elimi­nate mali­gnant tumor tissue in a targe­ted and effi­ci­ent manner. The approach is based on the inno­va­tive rese­arch of immu­no­lo­gists Prof. Dr. Karl Lang, Head of the Depart­ment of Immu­no­logy at the Medi­cal Faculty of the Univer­sity of Duis­­burg-Essen, and Prof. Dr. Phil­ipp Lang, Direc­tor of the Depart­ment of Mole­cu­lar Medi­cine II at the Univer­sity of Düssel­dorf. Abalos opera­tes in close coope­ra­tion with the univer­si­ties of Duis­­burg-Essen and Düsseldorf.

Dr. Aris­to­te­lis Nastos from Grün­der­fonds Ruhr commen­ted: “We see signi­fi­cant progress in the field of immuno-onco­­logy, howe­ver, there is still a need for product candi­da­tes that should enable the full power of the entire immune system to be harnes­sed. It is parti­cu­larly important that these not only attack the primary tumor but also more distant meta­sta­ses. We are plea­sed to support Abalos’ expe­ri­en­ced manage­ment team and its dedi­ca­ted scien­tists as they work towards an aren­a­­vi­rus-based solution.”

Dr. Frank Hensel, Prin­ci­pal of High-Tech Grün­der­fonds, adds: “Abalos Thera­peu­tics is an excel­lent exam­ple of first-class scien­ti­fic achie­ve­ments at univer­si­ties in Germany. The combi­na­tion with an indus­­try-expe­ri­en­­ced manage­ment team has resul­ted in a company that is capa­ble of taking a decisive step in cancer treatment.”

Dr. Marcus Kostka is a seaso­ned indus­try expert with over 20 years of expe­ri­ence in various posi­ti­ons at Boeh­rin­ger Ingel­heim (BI) where he iden­ti­fied and drove inno­va­tion. Most recently, Dr. Kostka was a venture fund part­ner at BI and held super­vi­sory board posi­ti­ons at seve­ral compa­nies. He was also invol­ved in the successful exits of Rigon­tec and ICD Therapeutics.

Dr. Jörg Voll­mer brings to his posi­tion as CSO at Abalos Thera­peu­tics exten­sive know­ledge and expe­ri­ence in the fields of immu­no­logy, onco­logy and infec­tious dise­a­ses. He has acqui­red these in the course of his career in various R&D and manage­ment posi­ti­ons. Most recently, Dr. Voll­mer was CSO at Rigon­tec, where he was invol­ved in the deve­lo­p­ment of a novel immuno-onco­­logy treat­ment approach and its clini­cal vali­da­tion. He also led the company’s R&D acti­vi­ties until its acqui­si­tion by MSD in 2017.

About Abalos
Abalos Thera­peu­tics is using the unique immune stimu­la­tion of arena­vi­ru­ses to deve­lop a new approach to fight­ing cancer. This should enable the full power of the entire immune system to be used speci­fi­cally against cancer cells. The goal of Abalos’ aren­a­­vi­rus-based product candi­da­tes is to acti­vate the body’s innate and adap­tive immune response by propa­ga­ting the viru­ses in cancer cells. As a result, all rele­vant immune cell types speci­fi­cally attack the primary tumor and also distant meta­sta­ses. Led by expe­ri­en­ced biotech entre­pre­neurs and immu­no­logy pioneers, Abalos aims to make a quan­tum leap in immuno-oncology.

About Boeh­rin­ger Ingel­heim Corpo­rate Venture Fund (BIVF)
Foun­ded in 2010, Boeh­rin­ger Ingel­heim Venture Fund GmbH (BIVF) invests in biotech­no­logy compa­nies focu­sed on breakth­rough new thera­pies to drive inno­va­tion in biome­di­cal rese­arch. The BIVF seeks signi­fi­cant impro­ve­ments in pati­ent care through ground­brea­king scien­ti­fic disco­veries as well as their clini­cal trans­la­tion by buil­ding long-term rela­ti­onships with scien­tists and entre­pre­neurs. The focus of the BIVF is to explore novel thera­peu­tic approa­ches that address high unmet medi­cal needs in immuno-onco­­logy, rege­ne­ra­tive medi­cine, infec­tious dise­a­ses, and digi­tal health. These concepts may include, but are not limi­ted to, novel plat­form tech­no­lo­gies in response to previously untreata­ble dise­a­ses, next-gene­ra­­tion vacci­nes, and/or New Biolo­gi­cal Enti­ties, such as onco­ly­tic viral therapy.

The BIVF takes an active role vis-à-vis the compa­nies in its port­fo­lio and adds signi­fi­cant value through its own exten­sive expe­ri­ence in drug disco­very, science and manage­ment. BIVF mana­ges EUR 250 million and curr­ently over­sees a port­fo­lio of over 25 companies.
boehringer-ingelheim-venture.com.

About the Grün­der­fonds Ruhr
The Grün­der­fonds was initia­ted jointly by Initia­tiv­kreis Ruhr and NRW.BANK and is the first private-sector early-stage fund in the Ruhr region finan­ced by regio­nal indus­trial and finan­cial compa­nies. The fund invests in inno­va­tive and tech­­no­­logy-orien­­ted compa­nies from the life science & health, digi­tal economy, chemi­cals & new mate­ri­als, energy & indus­try, and logi­stics & trade sectors. Prere­qui­si­tes are good growth and exit pros­pects as well as compe­tent manage­ment. As a multi-corpo­rate early-stage fund, it also opens up important indus­try access points for the respec­tive port­fo­lio companies.
gruenderfondsruhr.com.

About NRW.BANK
NRW.BANK is the deve­lo­p­ment bank for North Rhine-West­­pha­­lia. It supports its owner, the state of NRW, in its struc­tu­ral and econo­mic policy tasks. In its three promo­tion fields “Economy”, “Housing” and “Infrastructure/Municipalities”, NRW.BANK uses a broad range of promo­tion instru­ments: from low-inte­­rest deve­lo­p­ment loans to equity finan­cing and advi­sory services. It works toge­ther with all banks and savings banks in NRW on a compe­­ti­­tion-neutral basis. In its promo­tion acti­vi­ties, NRW.BANK also takes into account exis­ting offers from the fede­ral govern­ment, the state and the Euro­pean Union.
nrwbank.com

About High-Tech Gründerfonds
The seed inves­tor High-Tech Grün­der­fonds (HTGF) finan­ces tech­no­logy start­ups with growth poten­tial. With a total volume of EUR 895.5 million distri­bu­ted across three funds and an inter­na­tio­nal part­ner network, HTGF has alre­ady supported more than 550 start­ups since 2005. His team of expe­ri­en­ced invest­ment mana­gers and startup experts supports the young compa­nies with know-how, entre­pre­neu­rial spirit and passion. The focus is on high-tech start-ups in the soft­ware, media and Inter­net sectors, as well as hard­ware, auto­ma­tion, health­care, chemi­cals and life scien­ces. More than EUR 2 billion in capi­tal has been inves­ted in the HTGF port­fo­lio by exter­nal inves­tors in more than 1,400 follow-on finan­cing rounds to date. The fund has also successfully sold shares in more than 100 companies.

Inves­tors in the public-private part­ner­ship include the German Fede­ral Minis­try for Econo­mic Affairs and Energy, KfW Capi­tal, the Fraun­ho­­fer-Gesel­l­­schaft and the busi­ness enter­pri­ses ALTANA, BASF, Bayer, Boeh­rin­ger Ingel­heim, B.Braun, Robert Bosch, BÜFA, CEWE, Deut­sche Post DHL, Dräger, Dril­lisch AG, EVONIK, EWE AG, FOND OF, Haniel, Hettich, Knauf, Körber, LANXESS, media + more venture Betei­li­gungs GmbH & Co. KG, PHOENIX CONTACT, Post­bank, QIAGEN, RWE Gene­ra­tion SE, SAP, Schufa, Schwarz Gruppe, STIHL, Thüga, Vector Infor­ma­tik, WACKER and Wilh. Werhahn KG.

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