Abdera Therapeutics Inc., a biopharmaceutical company leveraging its advanced antibody engineering ROVEr™ platform to design and develop tunable, precision radiopharmaceuticals for cancer, today announced it has raised $142 million in combined Series A and B financing. Versant Ventures and Amplitude Ventures led the Series A round, with participation from Northview Ventures as well as founding partners of Abdera, adMare BioInnovations and AbCellera. The Series B round was led by venBio Partners with participation from existing investors as well as new investors including Viking Global Investors, Qiming Venture Partners USA and RTW Investments.
“Radiopharmaceuticals hold the potential to transform the treatment of cancer, but the ability to finely tune radioisotope delivery to the tumor, while sparing healthy tissue, remains a major challenge for this class of drugs,” said Lori Lyons-Williams, president and chief executive officer. “Abdera’s ROVEr™ platform enables the design of antibody-based radiopharmaceuticals that are ideally suited to specific cancer targets with optimized PK properties to pair with a radioisotope of choice and maximize therapeutic impact. Our goal is to leverage the power and flexibility of our platform to pursue a variety of oncology targets, advance potential best-in-class new cancer medicines and build Abdera into a leading radiopharmaceutical company.”
Engineering the Future of Precision Radiopharmaceuticals
Current radiopharmaceutical targeting approaches leverage either small ligands or large proteins. While small ligands may lead to rapid tumor penetration and elimination, they are often associated with low total tumor accumulation, high renal uptake, and kidney toxicity. Large formats, often using existing antibodies not designed specifically for radiopharmaceutical therapy, may avoid renal uptake, but their large size and long half-life in circulation may limit tumor penetration and cause systemic irradiation potentially leading to bone marrow toxicities. The therapeutic index is not ideal with either approach.
Abdera’s Radio Optimized Vector Engineering (ROVEr™) platform allows the company to design novel antibody-based radiopharmaceuticals with high affinity antigen binding domains to cancer targets and an engineered Fc domain that fine tunes the antibodies’ PK to best suit the delivery of therapeutic isotopes. Abdera aims to optimize the therapeutic index of potent radioisotopes emitting alpha or beta particles to selectively destroy tumor cells while sparing healthy cells, providing patients with potentially transformative new cancer treatments.
“We design our targeting molecules as heavy-chain-only antibodies, which we believe are the optimal size to achieve an ideal balance of target specificity, tumor penetration and accumulation of the radioisotope while avoiding high renal uptake,” said Adam Judge, Ph.D., co-founder and senior vice president, research. “Our modular format offers the ability to fuse novel antigen binding domains designed for any cancer target of interest to an engineered Fc domain, rapidly creating antibodies with appropriate PK for radiopharmaceutical development. Abdera has generated promising proof-of-concept data in a variety of tumor models, leveraging a platform that provides an excellent foundation upon which to build a differentiated pipeline of potential best-in-class programs.”
“Versant has been an early mover in the emerging radiopharmaceutical field, and we believe that Abdera’s approach represents a new wave of innovation in this space to address important cancer targets that may be intractable to other approaches,” said Joel Drewry, Ph.D., principal at Versant Ventures. “We’re excited to be working with an exceptional management team and investor syndicate to advance the company’s cutting-edge technology.”
Lead Program Targeting DLL3 Advancing Toward Clinic
Abdera’s lead program targets delta-like ligand 3 (DLL3), a protein in the Notch pathway that is upregulated and specifically expressed in small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and other solid tumors, with very rare expression on nonmalignant cells. The company’s DLL3 program is advancing through preclinical development, and Abdera expects to submit an investigational new drug (IND) application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2024. In addition, Abdera is advancing a robust pipeline for other undisclosed cancer targets.
“DLL3 is a well-validated target for SCLC, a cancer with few treatment options,” said Yvonne Yamanaka, Ph.D., principal, venBio Partners. “Radiopharmaceuticals from Abdera’s ROVEr™ platform have the potential to address DLL3 and other tumor antigens that have been challenging to optimally target with conventional modalities due to low levels of expression. We look forward to working with Abdera to advance the company’s DLL3 program into the clinic and develop new radiopharmaceuticals for other cancers with high unmet need.”
Abdera is led by an exceptional team of scientists and company builders with demonstrated track records in drug development spanning oncology, radiopharmaceuticals and biologics.
“Abdera is curating an ideal team to build a leading radiopharmaceutical company, spanning members with deep expertise in biologics and radiochemistry and experience developing one of the most commercially successful radiopharmaceuticals to launch in recent years,” said Nancy Harrison, venture partner at Amplitude Ventures. “We are pleased to have worked with the company’s talented co-founders to grow Abdera and we look forward to what this team can achieve.
Abdera’s executive team includes:
● Lori Lyons-Williams, president and chief executive officer
● Adam Judge, Ph.D., co-founder and senior vice president, research
● Lana Janes, Ph.D., co-founder and senior vice president, operations and innovation
● Michael Abrams, Ph.D., co-founder and senior advisor
● Kawa Chiu, chief technical officer
● Jennifer McNealey, chief financial officer
● Alison Armour, M.D., FRCR, FRCP, interim chief medical officer
● Kelly Parker, senior vice president, human resources
Abdera’s board of directors includes:
● Garry Nicholson, independent director and chairman of the board
● Joel Drewry, Ph.D., principal, Versant Ventures
● Nancy Harrison, venture partner, Amplitude Ventures
● Maria Koehler, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer, Repare Therapeutics
● Colin Walsh, Ph.D., partner, Qiming Venture Partners USA
● Yvonne Yamanaka, Ph.D., principal, venBio Partners
● Lori Lyons-Williams, president and chief executive officer
Abdera Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company leveraging antibody engineering to design and develop new precision radiopharmaceuticals for cancer. Abdera’s Radio Optimized Vector Engineering (ROVEr™) platform enables the company to engineer potential best-in-class therapies for both clinically validated and novel targets that deliver potent radioisotopes capable of emitting alpha or beta particles to selectively destroy cancer cells. Abdera’s lead program targets DLL3 for the treatment of small cell lung cancer and other solid tumors. To learn more, please visit www.abderatx.com and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.