Forty Seven Inc., a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company, has completed the first half of a committed $75 million Series A financing round and has licensed the rights to multiple immuno-oncology programs from Stanford University.
The Series A financing was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sutter Hill Ventures with participation from Clarus Ventures and GV (formerly Google Ventures). The license includes rights to over 100 issued or pending U.S. or foreign patents that cover the antibody Hu5F9-G4 and several other novel immune checkpoint inhibitors and cancer-specific antibodies.
Forty Seven is committed to the advancement of immuno-oncology through the engagement of new and complementary phagocytic pathways that enhance anti-tumor efficacy and selectivity. The financing will allow Forty Seven to continue the clinical development of its lead molecule, Hu5F9-G4, a humanized monoclonal antibody against human CD47 that potentially has broad applications spanning multiple tumor types and treatment modalities.
CD47 is a molecule that is overexpressed on the surface of the majority of tumors and transmits a “don’t eat me” signal, enabling cancer cells to evade phagocytosis by macrophages. The molecule was originally identified as a cancer target by researchers at Stanford. In preclinical models, Hu5F9-G4 facilitated phagocytosis and elimination of cancer cells from multiple human tumor types as a monotherapy. Additionally, when used in combination therapy, it engaged macrophages as effector cells to enhance the efficacy of cancer-specific antibodies via Antibody-Dependent Cellular Phagocytosis (ADCP). Importantly, Hu5F9-G4 also could prime an effective antitumor T-cell response through cross-presentation of cancer cell antigens by macrophages, preventing engraftment of tumors expressing a cross-presented antigen into animals.
Company founder Irv Weissman said, “Targeting CD47 integrates the adaptive and innate immune systems, creating synergy with existing cancer-specific antibodies like rituximab, cetuximab and trastuzumab through ADCP, and potentially with T-cell checkpoint inhibitors through cross-presentation. We are grateful to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) for funding the preclinical studies and the current solid tumor clinical trial at Stanford, and to Ludwig Cancer Research for funding much of the research.”
Forty Seven will use the proceeds of the Series A financing to complete the two ongoing clinical studies, fund additional clinical trials in 2016 to assess Hu5F9-G4 in combination therapy and advance some preclinical programs towards IND.
“Forty Seven has hired a strong management team with deep industry experience. I feel confident that this combined team along with the support we have from our Series A investors and our scientific founders will enable us to fully explore the clinical utility of our lead molecule and the licensed technology,” said Jonathan MacQuitty, CEO of Forty Seven Inc.