San Diego (California-) based BioAtla, a global clinical-stage biotechnology company developing Conditionally Active Biologic antibody therapeutics, confirmed that it has raised $72.5 million in Series D financing round. The financing was led by Soleus Capital and joined by several new investors including HBM Healthcare Investments, Cormorant Asset Management, and other institutional investors.

Current investors, including Pfizer Ventures, the venture capital arm of Pfizer, also participated in the financing round.

Clinical trial with BioAlta's BA3011, a CAB-AXL-ADC. The trial is evaluating the safety and efficacy of the investigational drug in patients with solid tumors - NCT03425279
Clinical trial with BioAlta’s BA3011, a CAB-AXL-ADC. The trial is evaluating the safety and efficacy of the investigational drug in patients with solid tumors – NCT03425279

“The funding provided by this group of highly respected investors strongly supports the execution of BioAtla’s current and future product and strategic plans. The proceeds of this financing greatly enhance our ability to design, implement, and execute clinical programs evolving from our CAB platform that uniquely yields tumor-targeting antibodies with the potential for an enhanced benefit-risk profile,” noted Jay M. Short, Ph.D., chairman and chief executive officer of BioAtla.

“We’re looking forward to driving Phase II trials addressing high unmet medical needs in oncology for our innovative CAB-AXL-ADC (BA3011) and CAB-ROR2-ADC (BA3021) product programs, as well as advancing clinical studies for CAB-CTLA-4 (BA3071),” added Scott Smith, president of BioAtla.

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“In addition, we are pursuing the development of several T cell-recruiting CAB-bispecific candidates,” he added.

Conditionally Active Biologics
Conditionally Active Biologics, also known as CABs, are proteins generated using BioAtla’s proprietary protein discovery, evolution, and expression technologies. These proteins can be monoclonal antibodies, enzymes, and other proteins designed with functions dependent on changes in micro physiological conditions (e.g., pH level, oxidation, temperature, pressure, presence of certain ions, hydrophobicity and combinations thereof) both outside and inside cells.

Studies have shown that cancerous tumors create highly specific conditions at their site that are not present in normal tissue. These cancerous microenvironments are primarily a result of the well understood unique glycolytic metabolism associated with cancer cells, referred to as the Warburg Effect in aerobic cancer cells.

CAB proteins are designed to deliver their therapeutic payload and/or recruit the immune response in specific and selected locations and conditions within the body and to be active only in the presence of a particular cellular microenvironment.

The activation is also designed to be reversible to repeatedly switch ‘on and off’ should the CAB move from a diseased to a normal cellular microenvironment and vice versa. CABs can be developed in a variety of formats, including antibodies, antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), bispecifics, chimeric antigen receptor T-cells (CAR-Ts), and combination therapies.

Note
[*] In oncology, the Warburg effect refers to the observation that even in aerobic conditions, cancer cells tend to favor metabolism via glycolysis rather than the much more efficient oxidative phosphorylation pathway which is the preference of most other cells of the body.

Clinical trials
CAB-AXL-ADC Safety and Efficacy Study in Patients With Solid Tumors – NCT03425279
CAB-ROR2-ADC Safety and Efficacy Study in Patients With Solid Tumors – NCT03504488

Reference
[1] Hofland P. First Patient Dosed with AXL-targeted Antibody-drug Conjugate. ADC Review | J. Antibody-drug Conjugates. March 2, 2018 [Article]
[2] Hofland P. Phase I/II Trial with CAB-ROR2-ADC Doses First Patient. ADC Review | J. Antibody-drug Conjugates. July 4, 2018. [Article]