Pionyr is putting $62 million of venture capital-backed funding to use to target antibodies in the tumor microenvironment. The early-stage, California-based biotech possesses multiple preclinical antibody programs, of which two are coming close to IND-enabling studies targeting solid tumors. These programs are pursuing myeloid tuning in the tumor microenvironment.
The last funding round totals the biotech’s overall money raised to $72 million, over the last two years. The series B is headed by New Enterprise Associates and includes Sofinnova Ventures and Vida Ventures. It also included Pionyr’s standing investors such as Mission Bay Ventures, OrbiMed, Osage University Partners, and SV Health Investors.
Pionyr’s technology, myeloid tuning, was developed to rebalance the tumor microenvironment to support immune-activating myeloid cells over immune-suppressing myeloid cells. This action is believed to improve antitumor efficacy, predominantly when combined with checkpoint inhibition. The company added that the technology can assist with forecasting checkpoint inhibitor responsiveness, which could indicate future links between PD-1 and PD-L1 drugs.
“Our technology has led to a promising pipeline of potential new therapeutics against novel and highly specific targets in the tumor microenvironment,” said Max Krummel, Ph.D., Pionyr co-founder.
“We believe these drug candidates hold the keys to an untapped area of immuno-oncology and may have a significant impact on multiple cancers.”
Krummel has been a forerunner of immuno-oncology since the 1990’s and was a developer of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s first checkpoint inhibitor Yervoy (ipilimumab). Other co-founders such as Sachdev Sidhu, Ph.D., who was previously at Genentech and currently is the head of protein engineering and antibody discovery at the University of Toronto. Pionyr also possesses a former Gilead and Merck employee, Michel Streuli, Ph.D. who is the biotech’s senior vice president of research.
The biotech said its primary goal is to develop the “next generation of immuno-oncology therapeutics after checkpoint inhibitors and CAR-T.”