ISA Pharmaceuticals closes EUR26m funding round

ISA Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage immunotherapy company, has closed a EUR26 million funding round with participation from new investors including Invest-NL and existing investors including Regeneron. 

The proceeds of this round will be used to advance the lead product ISA101b towards first marketing authorisation as well as to broaden the clinical pipeline of immunotherapies based on the Synthetic Long Peptide (SLP) platform technology.  
 
Gerben Moolhuizen, CEO of ISA Pharmaceuticals, says: “We are very happy with the continued support of our existing partners and shareholders. Invest-NL’s support  underlines the innovation at ISA Pharma and potential impact of our SLP immunotherapies for the treatment of serious diseases.”
 
SLP immunotherapies act through the specific activation of the patient’s own immune system. Lead product ISA101b targets cancers caused by human papilloma virus type 16 (HPV16). It is in late stage clinical development in three trials for the treatment of advanced stages of HPV16-positive head and neck cancer and cervical cancer in combination with Libtayo (cemiplimab, anti-PD1 immunotherapy), which is being co-developed by Regeneron and Sanofi.
 
Leo Holwerda, Director Capital at Invest-NL, notes: “Our investment in ISA Pharmaceuticals is a good example of how our TOPSS program can help promising Dutch start-ups and innovative companies which were affected by Covid-19. Invest-NL is happy to support ISA Pharmaceuticals to accelerate its clinical studies and we are confident that the company will succeed in bringing its lead therapy for patients with HPV16-positive head & neck cancer and cervical cancer to the market. This innovative and impactful therapy will strengthen the prospects of many patients.”
 
Persistent HPV16 infection can cause head & neck, cervical and anogenital cancers. These cancers can be severe and life-threatening with low overall survival rates once these cancers progress to advanced stages. HPV16 is a major cause of head & neck cancer with over 25,000 new cases and 11,000 deaths in Europe1 and 46,000 new cases and 9,000 deaths in the US.

HPV16 is also responsible for about 50 per cent of cervical cancer cases. Cervical cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in women aged 15 to 44 years in Europe, with over 60,000 new diagnoses and 25,000 deaths each year in Europe. Globally there are more than 500,000 new patients and 300,000 deaths3.
 
The SLP technology platform is at the basis of several ISA pipeline products that are scheduled to proceed into clinical trials over the next few years. Three promising products are in the final stages of pre-clinical development. ISA104 targets the hepatitis B virus (HBV) in chronically infected patients. Chronic HBV is a major cause of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer and affects over 250 million people worldwide4. ISA103 is aimed at tumours that express PRAME, a protein closely associated with the malignant behaviour of cells in numerous types of cancers. ISA106 is a potential treatment for high risk Covid-19 infected patients.