BMS and Australian venture capital firm back immunotherapy company Pathios Therapeutics

Latest News

Bristol Myers Squibb has joined Brandon Capital, a leading Australian life sciences private equity firm, in supporting Pathios Therapeutics' Series B financing.

The $25 million in funding will support UK-based Pathios to progress the development of its investigative cancer immunotherapy focused on the inhibition of GPR65, a novel target genetically associated with a range of immunologically-mediated diseases.

The company will advance the development of its internally developed candidate, PTT-4256, an oral small molecule inhibitor of GPR65, into human clinical trials in advanced solid cancers by the end of 2024. Pathios will also use the the financing proceeds to expand its organisation, including executive leadership.

“The support of a syndicate comprised of premier life science investors Canaan and Brandon Capital and a global leader in oncology in Bristol Myers Squibb adds both capital and expertise as we look to generate clinical evidence to support our conviction that GPR65 inhibition will open the door to an entirely new approach to immunotherapy,” said Dr Tom McCarthy, co-founder and executive chair of Pathios.

“It is particularly gratifying to know that our investors share our belief not only in the foundational science we are pursuing but also the significant range of potential therapeutic applications for the platform, both broadly across the field of cancer and into other immunologically mediated diseases. We are eager to leverage the proceeds from this raise to continue our work and successfully advance PTT-4256 into the clinic later this year,” he said.

Pathios' investigative approach is focused on counteracting the immunosuppressive polarisation of immune cells, including tumour-associated macrophages (TAMs), triggered by an acidic tumour microenvironment (TME). It attacks a cancer immune evasion pathway by targeting GPR65. GPR65 is expressed on immune cells and is associated with driving the immunosuppressive immune cell phenotype in the TME that prevents immune-mediated killing of cancer cells.

Pathios says its internal human genetic analysis demonstrates that reductions in GPR65 function are associated with significantly improved survival across a range of solid tumour types. It also said there are strong genetic associations between GPR65 activity and various other immunologically mediated diseases.

“Our belief in the anti-tumour potential of our GPR65 inhibition platform is built upon two key pillars: the extensive validation of the target through human genetic analysis and the ubiquitous and fundamentally causal role that GPR65 plays in human cancer biology by creating a TME that is immunologically-favourable to tumour growth,” said Patheis CEO Dr Stuart Hughes. “This funding will now enable us to evaluate our scientific hypothesis in the clinic, providing the opportunity to illuminate the activity of this novel target in humans for the first time. While our initial clinical study will have all the hallmarks of a first-in-human trial, it will also feature a biomarker-rich design that allows for the measurement of clinical target engagement.”