Founded in 2011, Switzerland-based Numab Therapeutics closed a Series B financing totaling $22.6 million. New investors include 3SBio/Sunshine Guojian, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital Co., Ltd (one of Asia’s leading VC firms) and Eisai Co., Ltd., as well as board member Dr. Daniel Vasella. Additionally, existing shareholders contributed. The biotech venture will utilize the funds to broaden its proprietary pipeline and accelerate the development of a number of programs toward the clinic. It seeks to initiate a clinical trial testing ND021, its lead oncology program, during 2020.
Important Partnerships Trigger Confidence in Platform
Partnerships can represent a key path to a successful future for small biotech ventures. Numab Therapeutics (Numab) is no exception. Numab inked a deal with Eisai, a large Japanese-based pharmaceutical company, to discover and develop a portfolio of multi-specific antibody immunotherapies for cancer back in October 2019.
With “renowned institutional investors” such as Mitsubishi UFJ Capital and prominent big companies such as Eisai, not to mention important Chinese players (Sunshine), the market exhibits considerable confidence in the company’s platform and pipeline strategy.
Heavy Hitting Board
Numab has put together a powerful diversified—impressive Board of Directors. Daniel Vasella sits on the Numab board and has invested his own money. The ex-CEO of Novartis is worth approximately $300 million alone. Other Board members include Zhenping Zhu (acting CSO of 33Bio), prominent investment banker and financier Mark G. Egan, Ignacio Melero (professor of immunology at Academic Hospital of Navarra), Mario Sznol (formerly with NCI with international drug development reputation), David Hong (MD Anderson), and Matthew Galsky (Icahn School of Medicine) as well as three company founders.
The Core Company Value Proposition
The company focuses on multi-specific antibodies which have the potential to unlock entirely novel modes-of-action aiming at superior benefit-to-risk profiles relative to conventional cancer immune therapies. Their proprietary MATCH™ technology platform represents one of the most versatile and flexible sources for multi-specific antibodies. They report in their press release that MATCH molecules can incorporate up to six binding specificities in true plug-and-play fashion. The individual antibody Fv building blocks are designed for maximum stability and developability.
The company has a handful of products in the early-stage of the pipeline. Their multi-specific immuno-oncology drug ND021 holds the promise to outperform first-generation checkpoint modulators in terms of safety and efficacy.
The company appears to operate a relatively sophisticated business development operation counting a handful of impressive partnerships, including not only the recently announced Eisai and 3SBio/Sunshine Guojian, but also CStone Pharmaceuticals, Ono Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., Kaken Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., and Tillotts Pharma Ag.
At the helm, Co-founder and CEO David Urech was a head of R&D at ESBATech—in fact he designed their antibody discovery platform and was responsible for the discovery and preclinical development of ESBA1008 (now RTH258), a best-in-class anti-VEGF scFV for the treatment of age-related macular edema. Other management was involved with ESBATech.
A Track Record with Positive Liquidity Event
The founders of Numab were key players in ESBATech, which was acquired in 2009 by Swiss-based Alcon in a deal worth up to $589 million. The transaction included $150 million cash payment upfront plus contingent payments of up to another $439 million. ESBATech was founded in 1998 and had raised $72 million, according to Crunchbase.