SQZ Biotech announced the completion of a $65 million Series D preferred stock financing. The round was led by Temasek with participation from another new large, US-based fund as well as additional participation from existing investors, including GV, Illumina Ventures, Invus, JDRF T1D Fund, NanoDimension, and Polaris Partners. The funding will be used to support the ongoing Phase 1 trial of the company’s SQZ APC Platform in HPV+ tumors, as well as expansion into infectious disease programs. The Series D brings total financing to $238 million.
In January of 2020 the company dosed the first patient in a phase 1 trial evaluating SQZ-PBMC-HPV. SQZ is developing an additional novel cell therapy platform in oncology, activating antigen carriers (SQZ AACs), as well as continuing to develop its earlier stage platform, tolerizing antigen carriers (SQZ TACs), for autoimmune diseases and tolerance applications. SQZ will also expand its cellular vaccine capabilities into infectious diseases. Through the generation of pathogen targeting CD8 T cell responses, SQZ’s cell-based vaccines could potentially address numerous chronic infections and novel viruses in both prophylactic and therapeutic patient settings.
The company’s tech platform, Cell Squeeze, physically squeezes cells using microfluidic constriction. This temporarily disrupts the cell membrane, which allows whatever cargo that has been loaded into the cells to diffuse into the cell cytosol before the membrane reseals. The approach could be utilized to deliver a wide range of biological material into a diverse group of cell types in order to offer multifunctional cell therapy candidates.
“Our progress in oncology and recent expansion into the infectious disease space exemplifies the broad potential of the SQZ platforms. Coupled with our rapid central manufacturing and investment in developing a new point-of-care system, we believe SQZ’s differentiated approach to treating disease could provide meaningful benefit to many patients,” commented Armon Sharei, PhD, chief executive officer of SQZ Biotech.