Hookipa Biotech AG, a Vienna, Austria-based clinical stage biotech company, raised $59.6m (€50.0m) in Series C financing.
The round was led by an undisclosed blue chip U.S. public investment fund specializing in life sciences, alongside other new investors HBM Partners, Hillhouse Capital, Sirona Capital, strategic investor Gilead and current investors Sofinnova Partners, Forbion Capital Partners, Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, Takeda Ventures and BioMedPartners.
The company intends to use the funds to progress two proof-of concept clinical trials of its lead development programs, a phase 2 study of its prophylactic Cytomegalovirus (“CMV”) vaccine in solid organ transplant patients, and a phase 1 study of its TheraT® based active immunization therapy in patients with head & neck squamous cell carcinoma. In addition, Hookipa plans to expand its technology platform into other disease areas, such as prostate cancer.
Led by Joern Aldag, Chief Executive Officer, Hookipa develops immunotherapies for infectious diseases and cancer using novel proprietary arenavirus vector platforms. Its Vaxwave® technology presents a new replication-defective viral vector platform designed to overcome the limitations of current technologies. Vaxwave® is based on lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). In this vector the gene encoding the LCMV envelope protein, normally responsible for virus entry into target cells, has been deleted and replaced with an antigen of interest. The resulting vectors infect dendritic cells and stimulate potent and long-lasting immune response, however they cannot replicate and are therefore non-pathogenic and inherently safe.
Hookipa’s TheraT® platform is based on an attenuated replicating arenavirus and is capable of eliciting the most potent T cell responses. Significant pre-clinical data demonstrates that TheraT® is a modality capable of turning “cold tumors hot” which should result in an additional layer of efficacy in the fight against solid tumors. Specifically, TheraT® has proven to be safe in animals as well as capable of eliciting uniquely potent antigen-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T cell responses and strong tumor control in mice. The first clinical trial with HB-201 targeting human papilloma virus-induced head and neck cancer is currently being prepared.
This immuno-oncology technology is further being leveraged to target tumor self-antigens or shared neoantigens.