June 20, 2018 / 7:29 AM / a year ago

Belgian cancer research firm Iteos raises $75 mln

BRUSSELS, June 20 (Reuters) - Iteos Therapeutics, a Belgian medical research company developing drugs to treat cancer, has raised $75 million through private financing to start clinical trials of two candidate drugs and expand into the United States.

The company, based in Gosselies, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Belgian capital Brussels, is focused on targeting some of the mechanisms cancers have to suppress the immune system.

Iteos said on Wednesday it had attracted four new investors specialising in life sciences, including U.S.- based venture capital firm MPM Capital, which led the financing and has provided just over half of the funds.

The Belgian company, with 40 employees, is expanding into the United States and is set to move into a new office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in August to be able to carry out clinical trials there and also to be closer to the heart of the industry and its investors.

Iteos’s candidate drugs seek to spur a patient’s own immune system to attack a tumour. It plans to start phase I clinical trials of one candidate, an Adenosine A2A antagonist, in the second half of 2018 and of another, an anti-TIGIT antibody, in the first half of 2019.

Chief Executive Michel Detheux said they were likely to take five to seven years to secure regulatory approval. He declined to say how long the latest funding would last.

Iteos has previously partnered with Pfizer and Detheux said there was lots of interest from major pharmaceutical companies in the drug candidates in its pipeline. (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop)

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