Israeli biopharma firm Kahr Medical, a company developing cancer immunotherapy treatments based on immunotherapeutic fusion proteins, announced a new investment round last week of $46.5 million
The round was led by Israel-based global health tech and life sciences fund aMoon and included participation from new investors BVF Partners LP, DAFNA Capital Management LLC, Peregrine Ventures, Shavit Capital, and the Cancer Focus Fund. Several existing investors also participated in the round.
Founded in 2015, Kahr Medical develops immuno-oncology drug candidates for the treatment of multiple types of cancer.
The company said the funding will be used to advance clinical development for DSP107, a targeting fusion protein meant to treat blood and bone cancers and the company’s lead product candidate. Kahr says DSP107 binds cancer and immune cells together to prevent the cancer cells from evading the immune system’s recognition and response. The funding will also go toward preclinical stages of development for several other treatments, all based on multi-functional immune-recruitment protein (MIRP) technology, which is what triggers the immune response that stops cancer cell evasion and attacks the cancer cells.
“Cancer treatment is challenging in that cancer cells continuously change and develop resistance to existing treatments. Another notable hurdle is the ability of cancer cells to evade recognition and elimination by the body’s own immune system,” said Yaron Pereg, Ph.D., CEO of Kahr. “Our novel, multi-pronged product candidates are specifically designed to address these challenges by unmasking cancer cells for immune recognition, and at the same time, providing signals to effectively trigger a targeted synergistic activation of anticancer immunity.”
DSP107 represents Kahr’s most advanced treatment opportunity the company says.
Last month, Cancer Focus Fund announced a $5 million investment to finance the clinical trial of DSP107 in blood cancers. The Cancer Focus Fund is a unique venture capital fund established in collaboration with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MD Anderson) to provide funding and clinical expertise to advance promising cancer therapies.
Ross Barrett, a founder and managing partner of Cancer Focus Fund, discussed their collaboration with Kahr and their hopes for DSP107. “Kahr’s multifunctional immuno-recruitment fusion proteins exemplify the innovative approach to cancer we seek to support,” said Barrett. “DSP107 uniquely delivers a multilayered attack by binding cancer cells and T-cells to produce a targeted synergistic effect, combining immune checkpoint inhibition with selective T-cell activation. It has demonstrated encouraging activity in preclinical models, and we welcome the opportunity to support its clinical assessment in blood cancers.”
Meanwhile, Kahr continues to push along its entire pipeline of treatments based on MIRP technology, including the DSP502, DSP216, and DSP105, with the hopes that they can join DSP107 in clinical trials over the next several years. These products would cover different cancer types and checkpoints that prevent an immune response.
“Our unique approach positions us in the forefront of cancer immunotherapy, and through this financing, we can continue to advance our clinical asset and accelerate our preclinical projects into clinical development across multiple cancer indications for the benefit of patients who are non-responsive or refractory to existing immunotherapies,” Pereg said.