Pharma

NewLink Genetics raises $7.5 million to continue trials of cancer therapies

NewLink Genetics Corp. has completed its fourth investment round, raising $7.5 million to speed clinical development of its cancer therapies. Both the company’s vaccine and drug are considered “immunotherapies” because they work by helping the body’s immune system fight cancer.

AMES, Iowa — NewLink Genetics Corp. has completed its fourth investment round, raising $7.5 million to speed clinical development of its cancer therapies.

The Iowa biopharmaceuticals company is developing HyperAcute therapeutic vaccines for people who have pancreatic and lung cancers. It also is developing a tumor-fighting drug — D-1MT — based on small-molecule technology.

Both the vaccine and drug are considered “immunotherapies” because they work by helping the body’s immune system fight cancer. NewLink has several therapies in its development pipeline.

“NewLink has worked hard to become one of the leaders in the expanding field of cancer immunotherapy,” said Dr. Charles Link, chairman and chief executive of the company, in a written statement. “The proceeds of this financing will allow us to both rapidly move our lead immunotherapy product for pancreatic cancer into pivotal clinical studies and to advance our IDO inhibitor, D-1MT, into multiple Phase 2 studies.”

NewLink said its latest investment came from prior investors. In the fall, the company sold at least $17.3 million-worth of preferred shares to wealthy individual investors, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Those sales were part of a $25 million Series C financing round, according to the filing.

Though NewLink called the $7.5 million its “D Series” round, that is, its fourt, it appears the money essentially reaches the $25 million goal of the company’s third investment round.

NewLink Genetics employs about 60 scientists and technicians at the Iowa State University Research Park, according to the Des Moines Business Record. The company hopes to start pivotal studies for its pancreatic cancer vaccine late this year, the Business Record said.

In Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Clinic researcher Vince Tuohy is working on a different kind of cancer vaccine — one that prevents women from getting breast cancer.