Forty Seven Inc Raised $75 Million to Develop Antibodies for Cancer
Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sutter Hill Ventures was leading the Series A round of investment for Forty Seven Inc to develop antibodies for cancer. While Stanford University has also granted the right to its multiple immuno-oncology programs.
Established as a spinoff from clinical researchers in Stanford University, Forty Seven Inc was founded by four researchers: Irv Weissman, Ravi Majeti, Mark Chao and Jens Volkmer. The four of them have been doing research in Stanford University to develop antibodies for cancer extensively, and in 2009 they have identified a cancer molecule CD47 and published the result in two research papers.
CD47 is a molecule that is overexpressed on the surface of the majority of tumors and transmits a "don't eat me" signal. The molecule protected cancer from phagocytosis by macrophages. Simply said, this molecule is giving the protection for cancer cell from being engulfed by white blood cells component called macrophages, whose assignment was to attack and devour cancer cells.
Researchers in Stanford University has identified this CD47 molecule as cancer target. They have also developed Hu5F9-G4 which facilitated phagocytosis and elimination of cancer cells from multiple human tumor types as a monotherapy. Further research showed that when Hu5F9-G4 was used in combination therapy, it engaged macrophages as effector cells which enhance the strength of cancer-specific antibodies.
One of the Forty Seven Inc founders and researchers in Stanford University Irv Weissman told PE Hub Network, "Targeting CD47 integrates the adaptive and innate immune systems, creating synergy with existing cancer-specific antibodies like rituximab, cetuximab and trastuzumab through ADCP, and potentially with T-cell checkpoint inhibitors through cross-presentation. We are grateful to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) for funding the preclinical studies and the current solid tumor clinical trial at Stanford, and to Ludwig Cancer Research for funding much of the research."
On Wednesday, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sutter Hill Ventures completed the first half of $75 million Series A investment for the company. Clarus Ventures and GV (formerly Google Ventures) also participated in the investment. The company has also licensed rights for multiple immuno-oncology programs from Stanford University.
PR Newswire quoted Chris Schaepe, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, "The company's scientific founders have done an outstanding job of advancing Hu5F9-G4 into two Phase 1 clinical trials in patients with relapsed or refractory solid tumors or acute myeloid leukemia (AML)."
Forty Seven Inc CEO John McQutty in a press release as cited by Silicon Valley Business Journal said, "Forty Seven has hired a strong management team with deep industry experience. I feel confident that this combined team along with the support we have from our Series A investors and our scientific founders will enable us to fully explore the clinical utility of our lead molecule and the licensed technology."
With this Series A investment of $75 million, Forty Seven Inc will complete its two ongoing clinical studies and fund additional clinical trials in 2016. Stanford University has granted licensed for the company to conduct multiple immuno-oncology programs.