Fresh from Eli Lilly deal, NextCure bags $93M for clinical push


NextCure has raised $93 million. The Eli Lilly-partnered biotech will use the series B funds to advance Siglec-15-targeting antibody NC318 and another asset through early-phase clinical development.

Maryland-based NextCure is the latest venture of Michael Richman and some of the other executives who led Amplimmune to a 2013 takeover by AstraZeneca. At NextCure, Richman and his colleagues are overseeing development of a pipeline of drugs derived from a platform for finding cell surface interactions that affect immune function at sites including the tumor microenvironment.

NextCure kept its head down in the two years after unveiling its $67 million series A round in January 2016, but it hit a series of significant milestones in recent weeks as its lead drug moved into human testing and Lilly paid it $25 million to enter into an immuno-oncology collaboration.

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The series B sets NextCure to build on the progress it has made over the past 30 months. Some of the money will support development of NC318, a Siglec-15-targeting antibody that NextCure is testing in solid tumor patients. Preclinical data suggest Siglec-15, a target found on myeloid cells near tumors of the lung, ovaries and other organs, supports cancer growth by impeding the function of T cells.

RELATED: Lilly joins forces with NextCure to fuel immuno-oncology expansion

NextCure has set aside some of the cash for clinical development of a second drug. NC410, a drug designed to trigger immune activation, is set to get to the IND stage in 2019.

Hillhouse Capital Management and Quan Capital joined forces to provide NextCure with a chunk of the cash it needs to advance NC318 and NC410. The co-leads of the series B were joined by Bay City Capital, Surveyor Capital, Ping An Ventures, Taiho Ventures, ArrowMark Partners, NS Investment and all of NextCure’s existing investors, including Pfizer.

The commitment of the syndicate adds to a bank balance already swelled by the Lilly deal. Lilly paid NextCure $25 million upfront and invested $15 million in the startup in conjunction with the series B round.

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