Invenra, Developer of Therapeutic Antibodies, Raises $2.9M

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Invenra, a Madison, WI-based startup that develops therapeutic antibodies for pharmaceuticals companies and other clients, has raised more than $2.9 million from investors, according to a regulatory filing.

Twenty-five investors participated in the equity funding round, according to the filing, which was made public on Thursday. Invenra, founded in 2011, has now raised more than $14 million in equity and debt financing, according to SEC documents.

Some of the money raised in the latest funding round will go toward research and development efforts, and to compensate executives at the company, Invenra said in the filing.

Invenra’s core business involves discovering antibodies and performing related biology work around targets the startup’s partners have identified in advance. Invenra’s collaborators, which include U.K.-based Oxford BioTherapeutics and Portland, OR-based AgonOx, are then responsible for taking the drugs forward into the clinic.

Another company Invenra has partnered with is Kenilworth, NJ-based Merck (NYSE: MRK). Under the terms of an agreement the two companies announced in July, Invenra will discover antibodies against an undisclosed target of interest to Merck.

The antibodies Invenra develops are designed to stick to a specific target—a disease-causing protein, for example—and then perform functions on the targets. Invenra concentrates on antibodies for immuno-oncology that are bi-specific, meaning they can attack two targets simultaneously.

A majority of the collaborations Invenra has made public to date focus at least in part on developing new cancer therapies, Kimberly Kaufman, the startup’s head of alliance management, said in March. However, she said Invenra’s technology could also be used to make antibodies for targets known to cause infectious disease, autoimmune disease, and other conditions.

Invenra also has its own internal pipeline of antibodies designed to bind to targets the company has identified itself. Invenra says on its website that it plans to file for the FDA’s approval to start clinical trials on two drug candidates sometime in 2018.