Cambridge University spin-out T-Therapeutics has raised $59 million in a Series A financing led by Sofinnova Partners, F-Prime Capital, Digitalis Ventures and Cambridge Innovation Capital.

There was participation from Sanofi Ventures and the University of Cambridge Venture Fund. Concurrent with the financing, Graziano Seghezzi (Sofinnova Partners), Nihal Sinha (F-Prime), Samuel Bjork (Digitalis) and Robert Tansley (CIC) will join the T-Therapeutics board.

The proceeds will be used to discover and develop novel T cell receptor (TCR) therapeutics for cancer indications as well as inflammatory disorders.

The Granta Park-based company has developed a proprietary transgenic mouse platform, OpTiMus®, which creates an almost unlimited repertoire of ‘optimal’ TCRs as building blocks for pioneering therapies.

Initially, these treatments are being designed to recognise specific cancers and recruit the patient’s own T cells to eradicate the tumour.

T-Therapeutics is building a portfolio of transformational TCR-based medicines for cancer, addressing the limitations of current TCR therapies which only apply to certain cancers and lack specificity, leading to significant side effects. The company will also develop medicines which address various auto-immune disorders.

The team at T-Therapeutics includes highly experienced antibody engineers and drug developers who were responsible for the creation of the Kymab and PetMedix antibody discovery platforms and pipelines among other notable discoveries, including at Adaptimmune and GSK.

Of note, Kymab was acquired by Sanofi in 2021 for $1.45 billion and PetMedix by Zoetis, the world’s largest animal health company, in September this year.

Professor Allan Bradley, a key player in so many powerful companies since leaving the Wellcome Sanger Institute where he was director, is CEO of T-Therapeutics.

He said: “We’re delighted to have raised this Series A with such high-quality investors whose amazing networks and shared vision will help us deliver highly differentiated TCR cancer therapies. TCR therapeutics are very much at the dawn of their potential.

“We intend to replicate the success of therapeutic antibodies but build on this in a new dimension, by using the targeting domains of TCR receptors to take advantage of their much greater specificity for cancer cells compared to normal cells. The same logic can be used to target immunosuppressive biologics to tissues impacted by autoimmune disorders.

“By engineering a mouse that makes human TCRs, we are able to discover anti-cancer TCRs that are quantitatively and qualitatively better than those that can currently be isolated from humans or using display technologies. Our OpTiMus® platform provides an unbeatable starting point, a vast repertoire of unique, fully human TCRs, with the properties to make them ideal to develop into drugs.

“We can also use the OpTiMus® mouse with our decades of mouse genome engineering experience to better understand immune responses to TCR-based therapies, and interpret responses to other immunotherapy interventions such as T-cell engagers, checkpoint inhibitors or future therapies.”

Dr Robert Tansley, Partner at Cambridge Innovation Capital and board member of T-Therapeutics, added: “T-Therapeutics is a great example of the world-class research and entrepreneurship taking place in Cambridge, built on the pioneering work Professor Allan Bradley and his team carried out at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge.

“We are delighted to be working with Allan and his team again. T-Therapeutics is representative of the high quality translational science coming out of the University of Cambridge and the Wellcome Sanger Institute which can have significant impact on important areas of unmet medical need.”