Asher Biotherapeutics, a South San Francisco, Calif.-based biotechnology company developing precisely targeted immunotherapies for cancer and other diseases, raised $55m in Series A financing.
The round was led by Third Rock Ventures with participation from Boxer Capital of Tavistock Group, Invus, Y Combinator and MBC Biolabs.
Asher Bio is pioneering a new approach to immunotherapy, called cis-targeting, which seeks to selectively activate only the immune cell-types that drive a desired immune response, thereby addressing the inherent limitations of immunotherapies attributable to their heterogenous effects on multiple cell-types.
The most advanced development candidate in Asher Bio’s pipeline is AB248, an engineered form of IL-2 designed to be specific to CD8+ effector T cells. Native IL-2 is a clinically approved immunotherapy whose use has been limited due to pronounced side effects.
Beyond AB248, the pipeline includes a cis-targeted IL-2 designed to specifically stimulate CAR-T cells, a T-cell cis-targeted STAT3 activating cytokine for cancer, and a Treg cis-targeted cytokine for the treatment of autoimmune disease.
Asher Bio’s team of founders, management and board members include:
- Craig Gibbs, PhD, MBA, Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board
- Ivana Djuretic, PhD, Co-Founder, Chief Scientific Officer and Member of the Board
- Kyle Elrod, Chief Operating Officer
- David Kaufman, MD, PhD, Interim Head, Clinical and Translational Research
- Sheldon Okada, Vice President, Commercial and Business Strategy
- Andy Yeung, PhD, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer
- Robert Schreiber, PhD, Academic Co-Founder and Professor of Pathology and Immunology at Washington University School of Medicine.
- Ton Schumacher, PhD, Academic Co-Founder and Senior Member at Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) and Professor of Immuno-technology at Leiden University
- Reid Huber, PhD, Member of the Board and Partner at Third Rock Ventures
- Jeffrey Tong, PhD, Member of the Board and Partner at Third Rock Ventures