Bayer‘s investment unit Leaps by Bayer and Northpond Ventures led the $55m Series A funding round of cancer therapies developer Triumvira Immunologics.

Oceanpine Capital, Viva Biotech, Bloom Burton and the Centre for Commercialization of Cancer Immunotherapy (C3i) also joined the financing round.

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Triumvira is developing a platform to engineer T-cells to attack cancers, enabling immuno-oncology treatments.

The company’s T-cell therapies could offer an innovative cancer treatment by using the body’s immune system against cancer.

Its pipeline comprises four autologous and allogeneic T-cell immunotherapy candidates for liquid and solid tumours.

Leaps by Bayer head Juergen Eckhardt said: “We are very excited about the potential of Triumvira’s platform. It represents a unique opportunity in the development of next-generation cell therapies that promise to address previously incurable cancers.”

Triumvira aims to offer safe and efficacious T-cell therapies compared to existing cell therapies for cancer, including chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and engineered T-cell receptor (TCR) therapies.

The company will use this funding to advance its autologous and allogeneic programmes into the clinic, with therapies based on T-cell Antigen Coupler (TAC) technology.

In preclinical studies, the programmes showed biological differences between TAC-engineered T-cells and second-generation CAR-T cells, noted Bayer.

TAC-T cells demonstrated no tonic signalling, with substantial tumour penetration and long-term persistence, expected to generate stimulating anti-tumour activity and avoid toxicity.

Triumvira Immunologics president and CEO Dr Paul Lammers said: “We are excited to have a strong group of investors join our Series A syndicate, who believe in the promise of our proprietary TAC technology, which incorporates an innovative, well-differentiated, and patented design.

“As we develop our technology that has the potential to be used in treating both haematological and solid tumours, we hope to show that differentiation in clinical trials soon and provide a significant benefit to cancer patients.”

In March, Bayer signed a research collaboration and licence agreement with India-based drug discovery firm Curadev.