Seagen veteran-led ProfoundBio gets $55M to bring cancer drugs to the clinic


A biotech company developing targeted cancer therapies for solid tumors has raised more than $55 million in financing as it prepares to bring multiple drugs into human testing as early as next year.

ProfoundBio unveiled the Series A round of funding on Monday. The investment was led by Lilly Asia Venture, along with LYFE Capital.

ProfoundBio, which is based in Suzhou, China and has additional operations in the Seattle suburb of Woodinville, is developing a type of drug called an antibody drug conjugate (ADC). These drugs employ a powerful cancer-killing payload attached to an antibody that seeks out a protein expressed on cancer cells but not on normal cells. This approach delivers a targeted strike to tumors that spares healthy tissue.

The list of FDA-approved ADCs includes two, Adcetris and Padcev, from ADC specialist Seagen. ProfoundBio’s management team brings experience from that Bothell, Washington-based biotech, including work on both of those drugs. CEO Baiteng Zhao spent more than eight years at Seagen, first as a pharmakokineticist and then as associate director, according to his LinkedIn profile.

ProfoundBio’s funding announcement and its website say the biotech is developing drugs that would be “best in class” and “first in class” without further details about the ADCs. The company did not return a message asking about how its drugs are different. But the ways that ADCs can set themselves apart include the targets on cancer cells that they address, the cancer-killing drug payload carried by the drug, and the chemical linker used to bring them together.

The ProfoundBio pipeline lists 11 programs, all in development for solid tumors. The two most advanced programs have reached the preclinical research that could support the filing of an investigational new drug (IND) application. In the company news release, Zhao said the biotech is “preparing for multiple IND submissions in 2022 and beyond.”

Ten of ProfoundBio’s programs are ADCs. The only one that’s not is a T cell engager, a type of antibody therapy engineered to bind to both a T cell and a tumor, linking them. These drugs are intended to redirect immune cells to precisely target tumors.

Progress of ADC technology has led to more companies joining this field. In April, Adcendo and Adcentrx raised a combined $112 million in their Series A financings to support development of their respective drug pipelines.

Prior to Monday’s Series A financing, ProfoundBio said it had raised more than $12 million. Sequoia Capital China and Oriza joined in the latest financing. Investors from the pre-Series A round—K2VC, Gaorong Capital, and Chang’an Capital—also participated in the Series A round.

Photo by Flickr user Ed Uthman via a Creative Commons license.