Tagworks Pharmaceuticals BV (“Tagworks”), the pioneer of Click-to-Release chemistry designed to deliver more effective and safer systemic therapies, today announced a $65 million Series A financing led by Ysios Capital and Gilde Healthcare with participation from Novartis Venture Fund, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and Lightstone Ventures. They join existing investors including Meneldor and Oost NL. In conjunction with the financing, Thomas Harth (Ysios Capital), Edwin de Graaf (Gilde Healthcare), Marianne Uteng, Ph.D. (Novartis Venture Fund), Michele Park, Ph.D. (NEA), and Christina Isacson, Ph.D. (Lightstone Ventures), joined the Board of Directors.
The financing will support the advancement of TGW101, Tagworks’ lead click-cleavable ADC program, and the company’s proprietary Click-to-Release platform.
Tagworks’ platform enables controlled drug release induced by an in vivo click reaction with a trigger molecule. When applied to ADCs the triggered on-target release expands the scope to non-internalizing targets, affording a high bystander effect for the killing of tumors with heterogenous target expression. The platform also enables the on-target activation of immunomodulators, and the off-target deactivation of radiopharmaceuticals, enhancing their safety and therapeutic index.
Marc Robillard, Ph.D., is co-founder and CEO of Tagworks. He initiated and led the team working on Tagworks’ in vivo chemistry within Philips Healthcare, leading its spinout into Tagworks, where the click-to-release approach and other in vivo click-mediated therapeutic applications were further developed.
He commented: “Our Click-to-Release approach is poised to change the standard of care for patients with solid tumors. The limitation of today’s conventional ADCs is that they rely on suitable internalizing targets, which are not necessarily expressed by every cancer type and cancer cell. Our ADC therapy, however, does not depend on internalizing targets as it is based on chemically controlled release of the payload in the tumor micro-environment, thereby killing heterogenous tumors where not every cancer cell expresses the target. Accordingly, Tagworks has the potential to enhance efficacy in a safe manner through controlled payload release, and so, boost the therapeutic index. Importantly, our unique approach to targeting non-internalizing receptors also offers the opportunity to address a whole new cancer target landscape. This financing is an important step in unlocking the wide range of potential applications for Click-to-Release technology, to treat cancer types not addressed by current therapies.”
The company’s lead program, TGW101, is a click-cleavable ADC targeting tumor-associated glycoprotein 72 (TAG72), a clinically validated non-internalizing target widely expressed in solid tumors. TGW101 is designed to enable targeted and controlled drug release and activation in the tumor microenvironment, thus facilitating the killing of tumors with heterogenous target expression, which are difficult to treat with current therapies. The proceeds of the financing will support Tagworks in bringing this program towards initial clinical proof-of-concept, and in advancing the company’s broader pipeline, currently focused on oncology.
Tagworks owns a broad intellectual property estate on in vivo Click-Conjugation and Click-to-Release technology and is initially leveraging its approach to expand the number of ADC targets. In addition to TGW101, the pipeline includes discovery phase programs in ADCs and radiopharmaceuticals. Tagworks’ technology is compatible with small molecules, peptides, and larger biomolecules, such as antibodies and fragments, and covers a wide range of toxin and immunomodulator classes.
Chris Martin, DPhil, Tagworks’ Chairman of the Board commented: “I am very pleased to join the Tagworks Board as Chair, and to support and guide the team in working to rapidly move their lead ADC program into clinical development. ADCs have long held great promise as powerful, highly targeted cancer therapies, and Tagworks’ platform represents an opportunity to expand both the therapeutic index and reach of these therapies to additional tumor types, and to make a truly transformative impact on cancer patients not served by existing therapies.”
Thomas Harth, Principal at Ysios Capital stated: “We are proud to have assembled such a strong, international syndicate of investors around Tagworks. Click-to-Release shows tremendous potential to bring forward a new generation of biologic therapeutics with higher efficacy and improved safety that could be very meaningful for patients. We look for companies with truly differentiated approaches, and thus we are delighted to support Tagworks in its next phase of development.”
Edwin de Graaf, Managing Partner at Gilde Healthcare added: “Tagworks’ cutting-edge technology platform is very promising for the development of first and best in class therapeutics, such as ADCs, immunomodulators and radiopharmaceuticals. The ability to enable on-target activation or off-target deactivation is a potentially game-changing opportunity in the field of drug development. We look forward to working closely with this top-tier team as it advances powerful new treatments for cancer and other diseases.”