Immunotherapy startup KAHR gets $46.5 million from investors

Funding will help advance the clinical development of firm’s flagship drug for the treatment of solid and blood cancers via multiple clinical trials

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

A woman undergoing CT scan as part of cancer screening (Drazen Zigic via iStock by Getty Images)
A woman undergoing CT scan as part of cancer screening (Drazen Zigic via iStock by Getty Images)

Cancer immunotherapy startup KAHR announced on Wednesday the first closing of an investment round raising $46.5 million.

The financing was led by VC fund aMoon with participation from new investors BVF Partners LP, DAFNA Capital Management LLC, Peregrine Ventures, Shavit Capital and the Cancer Focus Fund.

Existing investors also participated in this financing, including Flerie Invest AB, Oriella Limited (CBG, chaired by Vincent Tchenguiz), Pavilion Capital, Hadasit Bio Holdings Ltd (HBL) and Mirae Asset, the company said in a statement.

KAHR in August got a nod from the US Food and Drug Administration to start clinical trials on its flagship drug candidate, called DSP-107, which is based on a compound that simultaneously targets cancer cells, weakens their defenses and activates an effective, local response. This is possible because the drug performs a dual action, using dual signaling proteins (DSP) — namely, one human protein marks the cancer cells, while a second human protein activates immune cells and inhibit the powers of the cancer cells.

DSP-107 is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 multicenter study to evaluate its safety as a standalone treatment in patients with advanced solid tumors and in combination with another immunotherapy medication, developed by Swiss multinational healthcare firm Roche, called Tecentriq, or atezolizumab.

Proceeds from the latest financing round will be used to advance the clinical development of DSP-107 for the treatment of solid and blood cancers, the statement said, through multiple Phase 1/2 studies as well as the accelerated clinical development of other drugs in the pipeline.

“Cancer treatment is challenging in that cancer cells continuously change and develop resistance to existing treatments,” said Yaron Pereg, CEO of KAHR. “Another notable hurdle is the ability of cancer cells to evade recognition and elimination by the body’s own immune system. 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.

“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,” he added.

Dr. Gur Roshwalb, a partner at aMoon, said that “KAHR’s multifunctional immunotherapeutic platform has enormous potential to address unmet needs in immuno-oncology.”

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