Bicara Therapeutics launches biologics for cancer immunotherapy

Bicara Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing dual-action biologics designed to spur a potent and durable immune response in the tumour microenvironment, launched with a US$40 million investment from Biocon.

The financing will be used to advance a pipeline of first-in-class bifunctional antibodies developed by a global team, including a biologics engineering team in Bangalore, India and an executive team in Cambridge, Mass.

Bicara’s bifunctional approach brings together the precision of tumour-targeted antibodies and the power of immunomodulators. These dual-action therapies are intended to activate a strong immune response inside the tumour microenvironment, while minimising the impact on healthy cells. This approach has strong potential in patients who are refractory to checkpoint inhibitors and first-line targeted therapies and is designed to achieve efficacy as both a single agent and in combination with approved drugs.

“Immune checkpoint inhibitors and targeted therapies have been important advances in cancer care — but unfortunately, far too many patients either fail to respond or stop responding as their tumours grow resistant. Our dual-action biologics have the potential to bring new hope to these patients,” said Claire Mazumdar, Ph.D., MBA, Chief Executive Officer of Bicara Therapeutics. “We have brought together a team with deep experience in engineering complex biologics and a successful track record of developing FDA-approved drugs, and we’re thrilled to be advancing through the clinic so quickly as we move with urgency to address the significant need for more effective cancer treatments.”

Bicara’s lead program, BCA101, a first-in-class EGFR / TGFβ-trap bifunctional antibody, entered a Phase I/II study at U.S. and Canadian cancer centres in July 2020. BCA101 is being evaluated both as a single agent and in combination with the checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab in patients with advanced EGFR-driven solid tumours who no longer respond to the standard of care. Based on current progress, the company anticipates transitioning to dose expansion studies in the second half of 2021.

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