Shasqi Raises $50 Million to Expand Click Chemistry Platform Beyond Injectable Tumors and Accelerate Lead Clinical Program
November 11, 2021
Series B proceeds to fuel development of antibody-based therapeutics
Phase 2 registrational study of SQ3370 in soft tissue sarcoma planned for 2022
SAN FRANCISCO, CA., Nov. 11, 2021, Shasqi, a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing precision activated oncology therapeutics with its proprietary Click Activated Protodrugs Against Cancer (CAPAC™) Platform, announced today a Series B funding round of $50 million driven by a syndicate of private investors, including Juan Jaen, Ph.D., President of Arcus Biosciences and Bill Rieflin, Executive Chairman of the Board at NGM Biopharmaceuticals. The funds will be used to advance the Phase 1/2 clinical study of SQ3370 for the treatment of injectable, advanced solid tumors, and will enable Shasqi to expand its click chemistry platform to create therapeutics that do not require intratumoral injections.
“Data from our lead program shows us that click chemistry works in humans and the early validation gives us even greater confidence in our approach. This round of financing will enable us to advance SQ3370 through clinical development, while simultaneously advancing multiple next-generation click chemistry programs, beginning with an antibody-directed program that will unlock the potential of click chemistry to target tumors that cannot be reached with injections, significantly expanding our platform,” said José M. Mejía Oneto, M.D., Ph.D., founder and CEO of Shasqi. “We expect this expansion to open up the path for the platform to antibody-based approaches, immune cell engagers, radiopharmaceuticals and more. We thank all of our investors for their continued support and enthusiasm.”
“Shasqi’s approach enables us to look across the spectrum of the industry’s most powerful tumor killing therapies with a new lens,” said Dr. Jaen. “The next iterations of the technology will enable Shasqi to use even more powerful payloads and localize drugs at tumors that cannot be injected. There is an enormous opportunity to dramatically improve the efficacy of powerful therapies by localizing them, which could help increase the number of patients who benefit. I look forward to supporting the company’s progress, given the platform’s potential to transform the treatment landscape and patients’ lives.”
Mr. Rieflin commented, “The Shasqi team has parlayed $18 million into an ongoing Phase 1/2 clinical study of SQ3370 and a click chemistry platform that is poised for expansion into antibody-based and other targeted modalities. I’ve been impressed with the dedication and capital efficiency of the team and can’t wait to see what’s possible with the proceeds of this Series B financing.”
Shasqi plans to initiate two development programs over the next two years and explore a variety of other approaches in partnership with industry leading oncology companies.
With SQ3370, Shasqi advanced the first click chemistry-based therapy into human clinical studies. Interim clinical data from the Phase 1 clinical study of SQ3370, Shasqi’s lead program, in advanced sarcomas and other solid tumors, was presented earlier this year at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress and will be presented at the Society of Immunotherapy of Cancers (SITC) 36th Annual meeting. The data provides initial validation for Shasqi’s platform, demonstrating an encouraging safety profile and early signs of clinical activity. Based on this data, Shasqi plans to begin a Phase 1 expansion cohort of its clinical study of SQ3370 for the treatment of soft tissue sarcoma in patients who are unable to tolerate chemotherapy in Q1 2022, and expects to share pharmacokinetic and biomarker data by Q2 2022. In 2022, Shasqi is planning to initiate a Phase 2 registration study of SQ3370.
About CAPAC and SQ3370:
SQ3370 is the first click chemistry-based treatment to be tested in humans, and utilizes Shasqi’s proprietary CAPAC platform, an approach that activates cancer drugs at a tumor with decreased systemic toxicity. Shasqi is validating its platform with SQ3370, which is designed to activate a powerful chemotherapeutic, doxorubicin, at the site of the tumor. The investigational product is based on the chemical reaction between a drug protected through a trans-cyclooctene modification (a protodrug) and a tetrazine-modified biopolymer. The biopolymer is injected into the target tumor lesion, where it precisely activates an intravenously infused protodrug. Shasqi believes its click-chemistry approach can improve the efficacy and safety of many existing drugs and various modalities that have a limited therapeutic window.
Shasqi is a privately held, clinical-stage biotechnology company whose mission is to enable patients to beat cancer with tumor-localized therapies. Shasqi leverages its proprietary CAPAC Platform to develop precision oncology therapeutics designed to deliver unprecedented doses precisely focused at the tumor with an uncharacteristically mild safety profile - breaking through the historic ceiling of dose-limiting toxicities. Shasqi’s CAPAC Platform is highly modular and can be applied to a broad range of cancer drugs that are otherwise limited by toxicity, enabling the exploration of therapeutic biology in ways that were not previously possible.
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