Södertälje, May 31, 2023 – Anocca AB today announces that the company has successfully raised SEK 400 million through an equity financing round led by AMF and Mellby Gård. The capital injection will be used to further develop the company’s unique process that enables discovery and manufacture of next generation cell therapies for cancer on an industrial scale. The financing also allows Anocca to progress the company’s first products into clinical trials.
The financing brings together a solid group of existing and new investors, including Mellby Gård, AMF, Michano, Swedbank Robur, Ramsbury, Nidoco and several well-known family offices and private investors.
“In recent years, we have made great progress in automating our research platform. In addition, our large-scale and precise analytical methods have allowed us to generate additional data that strengthens the first products that will enter clinical trials. The capital injection will fund the continued expansion of Anocca’s research, development, and manufacturing capabilities as well as the start of a first clinical trial which is planned to be initiated in 2024,” says Reagan Jarvis, CEO of Anocca.
Anocca uses proprietary analytical methods to identify and produce a kind of immune cell, T-cells, that have the ability fight a specific tumour. These processes are unique and Anocca aims to be the first company that on an industrial scale can identify suitable targets on tumour cells and generate matching T-cell receptors (TCRs), a type of receptor that controls the activity of the immune system’s T-cells. Each active TCR identified by Anocca can be further developed into a highly specialised cancer treatment, or a “TCR-T” therapy.
“We appreciate the opportunity to invest in such an interesting and important Swedish research company as Anocca. The company operates at the forefront of cancer research and drug development, with its ability to create a broad range of therapies with high precision. They have an impressive capacity and position already today, and very interesting plans for future expansion and development. We look forward to being a part of Anocca’s future growth journey and believe that this will be an investment that will be beneficial for our pension holders, as well as for Sweden, Swedish research, and for patients that will have access to more effective treatments due to Anocca’s breakthrough solutions,” says Anders Oscarsson, Head of Equities at AMF.
In recent years, cell therapies have shown enormous potential in the treatment of cancer. The cell therapies used in practice today, CAR-T, have revolutionised the treatment of some cancers but are effective in less than 10% of all tumours. Despite this, CAR-T has quickly created a multi-billion-dollar market. The next generation of cell therapies, TCR-T, unlike CAR-T, has the potential to target virtually all forms of cancers.
“Anocca’s unique process creates almost endless opportunities to generate new TCR-Ts on a continuous basis. This means that we now have the chance to establish a Swedish company as a global leader in future cancer treatments,” says Hans Stråberg, Chairman of the Board of Anocca.
Anocca was founded in 2014 and currently has 100 employees. The company’s operations include both research and manufacturing and are located at former AstraZeneca facilities in Södertälje. In recent years, Anocca has focused on automating and expanding its platform to identify the right targets on tumour cells and matching TCRs, while preparing for regulatory approval of the manufacturing facility. Including the current capital raise, Anocca has received a total of SEK 1.3 billion in venture capital. In addition, in December 2022, Anocca was granted a venture debt facility from the European Investment Bank (EIB) of EUR 25 million.
Danske Bank acted as financial advisor to Anocca in the transaction.
For more information, please contact:
Jacob Michlewicz, Chief Financial Officer
+46 731 57 15 34
Background: Anocca’s unique process for generating TCR-Ts
Every day, the immune system defeats tumour cells that are about to develop into cancer. This in part is achieved by the immune system’s T-cells, which identify the tumour cells through a sophisticated recognition process. Each tumour cell has thousands of different ways of presenting itself to the body’s T-cells. To recognise all these variants, each T-cell has a unique receptor. The body can make a quintillion (1018) different variants of these T-cell receptors (TCRs). When the right TCR finds a matching signal on the tumour cell, the T-cell will be activated and effectively destroy the tumour cell. Cancer occurs when the growing tumour overwhelms T-cell defences.
By systematically recreating and manipulating this complex biological process in the lab, Anocca can identify the most effective targets and TCRs for each tumour type. In addition, Anocca considers the variations between individuals in how a specific tumour is presented to the immune system.
Anocca’s process is divided into three parts: 1) identifying the most common ways a specific tumour presents itself, 2) producing a matching TCR for that cancer target, and 3) validating that the match is potent and safe. Once Anocca has identified and validated the exact TCR – out of a quintillion possible – a patient’s white blood cells can be engineered in the laboratory to express the desired TCR. These cells are then re-infused as a treatment. This T-cell therapy modality is called TCR-T.
There are several TCR-Ts under development globally, but Anocca is unique in combining a large-scale approach with very high precision, which means that the company can generate new, highly specialised TCR-Ts in an automated fashion. Currently, Anocca has a rapidly growing library of TCRs, all of which have the potential to be developed into effective therapies for different cancer types in several different patient groups.