FLX’s $60M Series C, Jumpstarts I-O Trials

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FLIX Bio has brought in a $60 million series C round as it begins dosing for its new cancer test.

California-based FLX surfaced from Bristol-Myers Squibb’s $800 million takeover of Flexus Biosciences, with a pipeline of candidates the BMS decided to pass on. Because of the latest funding round, FLX now has the means as well as data to continue with phase 1 tests for its oral CCR4 inhibitor FLX475.

The drug concentrates on a key pathway in which tumors engage regulatory T cells to overpower tumor immunity. By obstructing the pathway with a CCR4 antagonist, the biotech anticipates stopping regulatory T cell recruitment to the tumor site, diminish the number of regulatory T cells and most importantly, facilitate immune activation as well as tumor killing, The company also believes that FLX475 can boost cell-based immunotherapies, such as CAR-T and cancer vaccines, leading to future combinations.

The biotech adds that it’s also now looking to pick out another clinical candidate next year, this time targeting Ubiquitin specific protease 7 (USP7), as well as working on its GCN2 program.

The $60 million series C came from new investments from Google’s venture arm GV as well as other “undisclosed investors”, and existing investors such as The Column Group, Kleiner Perkins, Topspin Partners and Celgene.

“With a discerning syndicate of investors committed to our science, our strategy and our team, we look forward to using the proceeds of this series C financing to advance our robust pipeline of small molecule immuno-oncology compounds focused on regulatory T cell and tumor myeloid cell modulation,” stated Brian Wong, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO.

FLX475 is arriving to the clinic with solid preclinical data from earlier this year. The results indicated that FLX’s CCR4 antagonists obstruct the migration of regulatory T cells and asset with the growth of activated effector T cells. Adding the CCR4 antagonist to anti-PD-L1 and anti-CD137 antibodies increased the tumor-killing effects of the drugs.

The CCR4 antagonist program is the most advanced in FLX’s pipeline.

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