Not one, not two, but three — biotech claims it will pursue CARs T, M and NK all at once – Endpoints News

An on­col­o­gy start­up is tout­ing some re­al­ly, re­al­ly bold claims.

In­cep­tor Bio an­nounced its lat­est round of fund­ing Thurs­day at $37 mil­lion, which it plans on us­ing to back pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams in CARs T, M and NK. Not on­ly will it be flesh­ing out its on­col­o­gy pro­grams, the com­pa­ny says it will al­so be putting some of that fi­nanc­ing to build­ing out its man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty in Gainesville, FL, which it bought from Mass­a­chu­setts CD­MO Ar­ran­ta Bio late last year.

While most biotechs will fo­cus on one kind of CAR, usu­al­ly CAR-T or CAR-NK, or in a few cas­es, both CAR-T and -NK — such as Cen­tu­ry Ther­a­peu­tics, which al­so bought its own man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty last year — In­cep­tor is the rare biotech at­tempt­ing all three, throw­ing in the new­er CAR-macrophage, or CAR-M, ther­a­py as well.

How­ev­er, un­like Cen­tu­ry, which emerged from stealth with $250 mil­lion in its pock­ets, In­cep­tor on­ly has $26 mil­lion in seed mon­ey from its found­ing in Au­gust 2020 in ad­di­tion to the $37 mil­lion from this re­cent round.

Why all three CARs? “We and oth­ers in the field rec­og­nize that CAR-T is not go­ing to be the so­lu­tion for every tu­mor,” In­cep­tor’s Pres­i­dent and COO Mike Nichol­son told End­points News, not­ing that CAR-T has been more ef­fec­tive against liq­uid tu­mors than sol­id ones. “We want to make sure we are pur­su­ing all of these frankly to in­crease the num­ber of shots we have at mak­ing the im­pact we want to make in the fight against can­cer.”

“As we build these pro­grams, we al­so do see an op­por­tu­ni­ty down the road to po­ten­tial­ly com­bine these [ther­a­pies],” Nichol­son added, cit­ing the po­ten­tial of start­ing a pa­tient on CAR-M and tran­si­tion­ing them to CAR-T or CAR-NK.

In­cep­tor’s pro­gram is an­chored around two key tech­nolo­gies, Nichol­son said. The first is a mol­e­cule the com­pa­ny li­censed from the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na that can be paired with CAR-T to en­hance the ther­a­py, while the sec­ond is a man­u­fac­tur­ing plat­form that sets up CAR-T cells to bet­ter face im­muno­sup­pres­sion from the tu­mor.

Not on­ly is the biotech plan­ning to de­vel­op a di­verse pipeline of CAR ther­a­pies, it al­so plans on ex­pand­ing its staff, Shailesh Main­gi, In­cep­tor founder and CEO, said.

When asked about the dif­fi­cul­ty of pur­su­ing such a di­verse pipeline, Nichol­son said that “we rec­og­nize that it is a chal­lenge. We cer­tain­ly are walk­ing in­to that with our eyes wide open.” How­ev­er, he not­ed that while some parts of the man­u­fac­tur­ing process­es don’t over­lap, a lot of them do, and they are mak­ing sure they take ad­van­tage of those ar­eas.

Main­gi said that he hopes In­ter­cept will get its first IND in the sec­ond half of 2023, but won’t say what in­di­ca­tions they plan on go­ing af­ter.

Ki­neti­cos Ven­tures led this round of fund­ing.


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