Scientist behind Adaptimmune and Immunocore secures funding for new Oxfordshire biotech

Photo shows: Bent Jakobsen founder and CEO of Accession Therapeutics
Scientist behind Adaptimmune and Immunocore secures funding for new Oxfordshire biotech

Accession Therapeutics, a company set up late last year which is developing novel immune-oncology therapeutics, has closed the first tranche of a long-term funding round. With financing from Primavera Venture Partners and Birk Venture alongside an international syndicate of experienced biotech investors, the funding will enable the company to progress its lead programme into clinical trials and build a pipeline of new cancer therapies using its Trocept technology platform.

The CEO of Accession Therapeutics is Bent Jakobsen, PhD FMedSci, the scientific founder of the successful Oxfordshire biotechs Adaptimmune and Immunocore and pioneer of T cell receptor therapy for cancer. He is joined on the company’s Board by Johnny Zou of Primavera Venture Partners and Hans Ivar Robinson of Birk Venture.

The team joining Accession Therapeutics is highly experienced in taking products to the IND or early clinical trial stage rapidly and effectively. Hires will be announced shortly. Proceeds of the fundraising will also be used to establish the company’s new headquarters in Oxford. The company’s strategy is to partner its products at the IND or early clinical trial stage point.

Accession Therapeutics believes that the ideal immunotherapy should have three characteristics – highly specific, broad in action so as to kill all cancer cell variants present in a tumour, and potent in activating the full immune system arsenal. By engineering viruses exclusively directed to cancer cells and carrying a transgene coding for one or more antitumour or immune activator drugs, Trocept products meet these three requirements. The antitumour or immune activator drugs, and immune system activation caused by cancer cell lysis after viral infection, combine synergistically to give a broad and potent response with limited toxicity.

The company’s lead product has shown encouraging data in in vivo models. Accession Therapeutics’ elegant approach, based on over a decade’s research, is believed to be the first time that a virus has been genetically modified to exclusively target cancer cells (cancer tropism). This engineered specificity targets some of the hardest to treat and most widespread forms of the disease, such as breast, cervical, colorectal, gastric, head and neck, lung, oral, ovarian and pancreatic cancer.

Bent Jakobsen, PhD FMedSci, CEO of Accession Therapeutics, said: “The past decade has demonstrated the promise of harnessing the immune system against cancers but, in the majority of cancers and patients, current treatment concepts fail to deal with the huge diversity of cancer cells leading to transient responses followed by progressive disease. Accession Therapeutics’ Trocept approach enables us to design novel treatments with the potential to deal radically with the full variety and escape mechanisms of tumour cells. We would like to thank Primavera Venture Partners, Birk Venture and our other investors for their endorsement and we look forward to working with them as we progress our lead programme towards the clinic and advance the portfolio.”

Johnny Zou, co-head of Primavera Venture Partners, added: “Primavera Venture Partners is excited to be involved in a new venture with such promising technology managed by a team with an outstanding record in the immune-oncology field. Accession Therapeutics provides a unique opportunity for making a huge step change, and within a relatively limited time-frame, in the treatment of many cancers.”

Hans Ivar Robinson, CEO and Chairman of Birk Venture, said: “We are very excited by the potential of Accession Therapeutics’ elegant Trocept technology in hard-to-treat cancers. Birk Venture looks forward to using its expertise gained from extensive oncology investment to support the company’s development of much needed novel cancer therapeutics.”