Sofinnova Ventures and Novo A/S step into one of the biggest European series C financing rounds, which is about €72.8 million. The money goes to the Dutch immuno-oncology company Merus and will advance its cancer-fighting bispecific antibodies.

Back in April, Merus announced its intention to go public at the Nasdaq, with the goal of raising at least €100M this year, but then the company decided to cash in the money in a private round for the moment. This may be because of the unstable markets these days or just to give a little foretaste of what is to come.

The clinical-stage company, which has raised more than €50M in series B, already had the support of big pharma, including Novartis Venture Fund, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc. and Pfizer Venture Investments. For its present financing round, Merus attracted further well-known investors, namely Sofinnova Ventures and Novo A/S, which jointly led the €72.8M round.

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The money will advance Merus’ clinical trials. Its therapies are based on its bispecific antibodies, which are comprised of two distinct arms. One binds to the tumor cell, while the other connects to a T lymphocyte, which then hopefully kills the first. Its lead therapy is currently in Phase I/II for the treatment of HER2-expressing solid tumors.

merus antibody

Merus’ bispecific antibody, designed to kill tumor cells © Merus

Merus is just one of many companies raising a lot of cash to advance therapies that activate our immune system. Only this month, Roche set its priority towards immuno-oncology, two leading German biotechs joined forces to pump up their pipeline and also Sanofi entered a new immuno-oncology project.

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