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Inhibrix Pulls In $40M to Press Ahead With Cancer Drug Clinical Trials

Xconomy San Diego — 

Inhibrx, developer of protein drugs targeting cancer and other diseases, has raised $40 million from the hedge fund Viking Global Investors as the biotech steers several programs through early-stage clinical trials.

The La Jolla, CA-based company was founded in 2010 by Mark Lappe, Brendan Eckelman, and Quinn Deveraux. Eckelman is the company’s chief scientific officer and executive vice president of strategy; Deveraux is its executive vice president of early research. Both were at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation before founding Inhibrx with Lappe, its CEO, who previously was the founder and managing partner of a fund that invests in public biotechs.

La Jolla, CA-based Inhibrx says its protein-engineering technology allows it to produce single-domain antibodies (also known as nanobodies), which it combines, Lego-style, to design complex therapeutics to bind to difficult-to-target receptors in a number of ways. The company also says it can manufacture the antibodies at high yields using standard processes.

The money, which will go to advance Inhibrx’s pipeline and further develop its technology, comes at a critical point for the company. Though Inhibrx previously allowed larger partners to access some of its compounds and technology, those deals have yielded mixed results so far.

It is now moving on its own into the clinic for the first time.

Last December the company dosed its first patient in a Phase 1 study for INBRX-105, a drug aimed at tumors that express a protein called PD-L1. The study is including patients whose cancers are resistant to other cancer immunotherapies that target the molecule. It also recently entered the clinic with INBRX-109, an experimental oncology treatment designed to target DR5, a receptor associated with tumor cell death, in patients with sarcomas and other solid tumors.

By year’s end, the company anticipates moving two additional programs into Phase 1 trials, Lappe said in the news release. … Next Page »

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