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Indi Molecular scores first funding round

Proceeds will push forward technology platform and immuno-oncology imaging agent

by Lisa M. Jarvis
2017070 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 28

Credit: Indi Molecular
Photo of Al Luderer, CEO of Indi Molecular.
Credit: Indi Molecular

Indi Molecular has secured $11.5 million in series A funding to support the development of small peptides that act like antibodies. This first formal financing round was led by the venture arm of Merck KGaA, Legend Capital, Sabey, and earlier investors in the biotech firm.

Indi Molecular was spun off of Integrated Diagnostics in 2013 with roughly $1.8 million in seed funding.

The company’s core technology comes from the labs of a cofounder, Caltech chemist James R. Heath, who used click chemistry to develop a new class of compounds dubbed “protein-catalyzed capture” agents. PCCs are synthetic peptides that nestle into their protein targets with the specificity of antibodies but have small-molecule-like properties allowing them to access previously undruggable targets.

The seed money, along with a partnership with an undisclosed big pharmaceutical company, allowed the biotech firm to develop its platform and intellectual property to a point where they can be translated into therapies and diagnostic agents.

The series A proceeds will be used to automate Indi Molecular’s high-throughput PCC discovery platform, a goal it hopes to achieve within the next nine months, CEO Albert Luderer says.

The money will also allow the biotech firm to begin clinical studies of its lead product, a PET immuno-oncology imaging agent. Current cancer imaging agents primarily track glucose metabolism, a method that just reveals hot spots on a tumor, Luderer explains. Companies are interested in developing more information-rich imaging agents so oncologists can see specific cell populations in a tumor or supply data that can help stratify patients in clinical trials.

Indi Molecular expects to move into human tests of its imaging agent within 12–14 months, Luderer says.



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