Biopharma startup Rgenix said it has raised $40 million in Series C financing to further develop its clinical and pre-clinical oncology programs and for general corporate purposes.
New York City-based Rgenix has discovered several novel RNA-regulated cancer targets that drive tumor growth and cancer progression, according to its website. These targets regulate key components of the tumor microenvironment, including immune cells and cancer metabolism pathways.
The Series C financing was led by Lepu Medical, a publicly traded global healthcare firm, and includes Oceanpine Capital and WuXi AppTec’s Corporate Venture Fund. Existing investors also participated in the financing round, including Novo Holdings, Sofinnova Partners, Alexandria Venture Investments, and the Partnership Fund for New York City’s Innovate NY Fund and associated entities.
The financing will support Phase 1b/2 clinical trials of the lead program RGX-104 in multiple cancer indications, including in checkpoint inhibitor refractory patients. It will also support early clinical development of RGX-202, a first-in-class cancer metabolism program, as well as discovery stage programs arising from the Rgenix target discovery platform.
RGX-104 is a first-in-class small-molecule immunotherapy that targets the Liver X Receptor (LXR) and modulates innate immunity by activating the ApoE gene. Data from a Phase 1a dose escalation of RGX-104 in advanced cancer patients demonstrated both immune-stimulatory and anti-tumor activity, according to the company. Rgenix is currently enrolling patients in the Phase 1b stage of the trial in multiple cancer indications, including in combination with the checkpoint inhibitor nivolumab.
RGX-202 is a small-molecule compound that suppresses gastrointestinal cancer progression by inhibiting a novel cancer metabolism pathway involved in supplying energy to cancer cells. Pre-clinical research shows the compound is active as a monotherapy and, in combination with chemotherapy, is considered to be the standard of care. Rgenix expects to launch a Phase 1 trial of RGX-202 later this year.
“Lepu Medical is very pleased to make this investment in Rgenix. We truly appreciate Rgenix’s unique RNA target discovery approach in identifying various first-in-class cancer targets. We also believe RGX-104 has great potential with checkpoint inhibitors across many important cancer types,” said Lepu Medical CEO Zhongjie Pu in a prepared statement. “As Lepu Medical has PD-1, PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors and an oncolytic virus in clinical trials, we also look forward to exploring possible collaborative opportunities with Rgenix as part of our goal to develop further in the oncology market together.”