Imvax, a US-based clinical-stage biotechnology company led by Irishman John Furey, has raised $112 million (€97.7m) to advance brain cancer cell therapy.
Mr Furey joined the company last September as its first full-time chief executive. Prior to this he was chief operating officer at Philadelphia-headquartered Spark Therapeutics, which was acquired by Roche in a $4.8 billion deal in February 2019.
Imvax, which is also headquartered in Philadelphia, is working on a new vaccine that has the potential to advance care for patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). This is a particularly aggressive cancer that occurs in the brain or spinal cord.
The new financing will enable Imvax to continue clinical development of its lead product candidate IGV-001 for treatment of GBM through phase II clinical trials. IGV-001 is a vaccine made from patients’ tumour cells combined with an antisense molecule to affect a personalised immune response.
The latest funding round, which is in addition to a $40 million fund-raise last year, was led by existing investor HP Wild Holding, which is led by Dr Hans-Peter Wild, the owner of the Capri Sun brand. Other participants included Ziff Capital Partners, Magnetar Capital, TLP Investment Partners and a new institutional investor Invus.
“The tremendous response to this round of fundraising reflects the promising results from our phase 1b trial in glioblastoma which validates the potential of IGV-001 to be a life-changing therapy for patients with malignant gliomas,” said Mr Furey.
“This funding positions us to advance IGV-001 through the next stage of clinical development in glioblastoma, explore other solid tumour indications, and start the build-out of additional capabilities needed to operationalise our unique approach to delivering this therapy.”
Mr Furey, who has a BSc in environmental health from Trinity College Dublin and an MBA from Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, spent 10 years working for Pfizer in the US and China. He was also senior vice-president and head of global operations for Baxalta, where he directed manufacturing, quality, engineering, and process development, and managed a $2.5 billion production budget.