London, UK – 21 October 2021 – Leucid Bio (“Leucid” or the “Company”), a biotech company pioneering next-generation cell therapies for hard-to-treat cancers, today announces that it has successfully raised £11.5 million in a Series A financing round. The investment was led by Epidarex and new investor Vulpes Investment Management, with participation from new investors 2Invest and Future Fund of the British Business Bank, and existing investor Sofinnova Partners. Proceeds from the financing will be used to initiate a Phase 1 trial of its lead candidate, LEU-011, for the treatment of platinum resistant ovarian cancer.
CAR T-cell therapy is a revolutionary technology in which the patient’s own immune cells are reprogrammed so they can recognise and destroy cancer cells. This has proven to be a powerful therapy for refractory blood cancers but has not yet been very effective for the treatment of solid cancers.
Leucid was founded to translate 20 years of pioneering CAR-T research led by Dr John Maher at King’s College London who joined the Company from inception as its Chief Scientific Officer. Leucid has developed a proprietary engine that builds upon Dr Maher’s novel CAR-T model which develops CAR-T molecules designed to be in a more natural biological configuration of cells. The early development work was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre. The Company’s technology gives properties to the CAR-Ts that enable them to consistently outperform previous generations of CAR-T therapies in pre-clinical studies; enhancing T-cell potency and generating a persistent long-term response with reduced toxicity.
Leucid’s LEU-011 programme is a NKG2D CAR T-cell therapy in pre-clinical development for the treatment of solid tumours and haematological malignancies. The NKG2D receptor is an activating immune receptor that triggers cell death upon recognition of human NKG2D ligands expressed on transformed, infected or damaged cells. LEU-011 has potential for the treatment of multiple cancer types as NKG2D ligands are expressed on more than 80% of human tumour cells.
In conjunction with the Series A financing, Ian Miscampbell, Managing Partner of Sixth Element Capital LLP, has been appointed Chair of the Board, while Martin Diggle, Portfolio Manager of Vulpes Life Science Fund will join the Board of Directors as Non-Executive Director, and Heikki Lanckriet as Board Observer for 2Invest. Epidarex’s Peter Finan currently sits on the Board as Investment Director, and Graziano Seghezzi, Managing Partner of Sofinnova, and Michael Garrison, Director at King’s College London remain as Observers to the Board.
Artin Moussavi, Chief Executive Officer of Leucid Bio, said: “We are excited to welcome new investors to Leucid Bio. With support from this high calibre syndicate, the financing will enable us to progress our lead programme, LEU-011, into clinical development. At Leucid we are developing improved CAR-T technologies aimed to overcome key challenges in CAR T-cell therapy for solid tumours, to improve treatment outcomes and save the lives of cancer patients, where current treatments are not currently proving to be as clinically meaningful as required.”
Ian Miscampbell, Chair of Leucid Bio’s Board of Directors, commented: “I am delighted to be joining as Chair of this trail-blazing Company as it moves into the clinical development phase, developing novel CAR-T therapies for patients who do not currently have a treatment option. I have been impressed by the excellent work achieved by the Leucid team and am excited to establish Leucid as a leading next generation CAR-T company.”
Peter Finan, Partner at Epidarex Capital, said: “The new financing will allow us to explore Leucid’s ground-breaking technology in a clinical setting. We remain optimistic that with the right therapeutic approach, the challenges for CAR-T therapy in a solid tumour setting can be overcome. We look forward to working closely with the Leucid team and our co-investors to realise the potential of Leucid’s technology.”
Martin Diggle, Principal at Vulpes Life Sciences, stated: “After performing extensive scientific due diligence, Vulpes is delighted to cornerstone this important fundraise to enable Leucid to advance its exciting cancer therapies. We believe Professor John Maher’s team has one of the most promising approaches to treating solid tumours in the world today and we are excited by the possibilities of its CAR-T research to date.”
About Leucid Bio
Leucid Bio is a pioneering biotech company developing cell therapies for refractory cancers, especially solid tumours. Leucid was founded to translate 20 years of King’s College London (King’s) research in the CAR-T field and is led by a highly experienced management team with both scientific and commercial expertise. As part of Leucid’s ongoing relationship with King’s, it benefits from exclusive access to and resources from the deep scientific, clinical and manufacturing expertise of Dr Maher and his academic team of immuno-oncology experts.
Leucid is headquartered in London, UK, with operations based at Guy’s Hospital with its own GMP manufacturing and clinical lab facilities, enabling it to maintain its patient-centric focus on developing better cell therapies for the benefit of individuals with hard-to-treat solid tumours.
About Vulpes Investment Management
Vulpes Investment Management Pte Ltd is a Singapore fund management company backed by a single family office, seeking alternative investment opportunities with a focus on long term value creation and alignment of interests with our Entrepreneurs and Investors. The Vulpes Life Science Fund is a co-investment fund that invests in companies that possess superior cutting-edge technology. The fund gives exposure to “best in class” technologies in the field of regenerative medicine. For more information, visit www.vulpesinvest.com
2Invest AG (2Invest) is an investment company listed on the Frankfurt market formed in 2020 from the restructuring of businesses of 4basebio AG. Our investment objective is primarily but not exclusively to identify and support emerging companies with both strong management teams and ground-breaking technologies in the biotechnology, life sciences and IT sectors. Our ambition is to enable those companies to reach new and meaningful value inflexion points. www.2invest-AG.com
About Sofinnova Partners
Sofinnova Partners is a leading European venture capital firm in life sciences, specialising in healthcare and sustainability. Based in Paris, London and Milan, the firm brings together a team of professionals from all over the world with strong scientific, medical and business expertise. Sofinnova Partners is a hands-on company builder across the entire value chain of life sciences investments, from seed to later-stage. The firm actively partners with ambitious entrepreneurs as a lead or cornerstone investor to develop transformative innovations that have the potential to positively impact our collective future.
Founded in 1972, Sofinnova Partners is a deeply-established venture capital firm in Europe, with 50 years of experience backing over 500 companies and creating market leaders around the globe. Today, Sofinnova Partners has over €2 billion under management. For more information, please visit: www.sofinnovapartners.com
About The Future Fund
The Future Fund was established to support the UK’s innovative businesses affected by Covid-19. These businesses were unable to access other government business support programmes, such as CBILS, because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit and typically rely on equity investment. The Future Fund, now closed to new applications, provided UK-based companies with convertible loans, on the condition that third-party investors at least match the Government’s commitment. The convertible loans are designed to convert into equity at the next equity funding round. The Future Fund was developed by government and delivered by the British Business Bank.
About King’s College London
King’s College London is one of the top 35 UK universities in the world and one of the top 10 in Europe (QS World University Rankings, 2020/21) and among the oldest in England. King’s has more than 31,000 students (including more than 12,800 postgraduates) from some 150 countries worldwide, and some 8,500 staff.
King’s has an outstanding reputation for world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), eighty-four per cent of research at King’s was deemed ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (3* and 4*).
Since our foundation, King’s students and staff have dedicated themselves in the service of society. King’s will continue to focus on world-leading education, research and service, and will have an increasingly proactive role to play in a more interconnected, complex world. Visit our website to find out more about Vision 2029, King’s strategic vision to take the university to the 200th anniversary of its founding.
World-changing ideas. Life-changing impact: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/
About NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre (BCR) is a partnership between Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London. It is a part of the King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre. For more information, please visit: https://www.guysandstthomasbrc.nihr.ac.uk/
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