Endocyte and Camel-IDS get big funding boosts.
Radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer is garnering significant interest once again. Market research firm Transparency Market research predicts the global market for radiopharmaceuticals will expand at a CAGR of 5.4% from $5.1 billion in 2017 to $7.4 billion by 2024.
In October, Novartis announced that it is planning to acquire Endocyte to enhance its position in radiopharmaceuticals. This month, Camel-IDS raised approximately $42 million in a Series A round led by V-Bio Ventures and Gimv and including Novo Seeds and European VC HealthCap.
Novartis agreed to pay $2.1 billion for US-based Endocyte, which has a promising innovative radioligand technology for treating cancer. The company uses rug conjugation technology to develop targeted therapies with companion imaging agents. Its lead candidate is 77Lu-PSMA-617, a potential first-in-class radioligand therapy in phase 3 development for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). Endocyte also several other radiotherapy ligands in its pipeline, including 225Ac-PSMA-617, which is in preclinical studies for the treatment of mCRPC.
Novartis previously acquired (January 2018) Advanced Accelerator Applications (AAA) and its radiotherapy Lutathera® (lutetium Lu 177 dotatate / INN: lutetium (177Lu) oxodotreotide) - the first ever approved Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy - for the treatment of somatostatin-receptor positive gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs), an orphan disease.
The recent funding round for Camel-IDS underscores the growing interest in radiotherapy. The Belgian company, which was spun out of Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in 2014, develops novel radiopharmaceuticals using single domain antibody fragments derived from camelids — a family of mammals that includes camels and llamas — labeled with radioisotopes. Tumors ingest these radioactive agents, which are designed to target and destroy specific tumor cells.
Camel-IDS will use the money raised this month to begin clinical trials with its lead candidate CAM-H2 for breast cancer patients with tumors that over express the growth-promoting protein HER2, whose disease has metastasized to the brain. CAM-H2 is designed to irradiate brain lesions while sparing healthy tissue.