ImmuneXcite raises $3.58m to advance technology that targets cancer cells

Photo taken from ImmuneXcite’s website.
Photo taken from ImmuneXcite’s website.

ImmuneXcite Inc., a Lexington-based biopharmaceutical company, said Tuesday that it has secured $3.58 million in second-round financing from new and existing private investors.

That amount is in addition to the $2.42 million that the company raised in 2011 in its first round of financing and an Accelerator Loan for about $1 million from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the agency that invests state money in local life sciences companies.

In a statement, Yaniv Bejerano, chief executive and cofounder of ImmuneXcite, said that the new investments will largely be devoted to helping move the company’s antibody-carbohydrate mAbXcite conjugates toward an investigational new drug filing.

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The mAbXcite technology targets cancer cells for destruction by engaging neutrophils, the most abundant and potent white blood cells, the company said in its press release. Neutrophils provide the body’s first line of defense against fungal and bacterial infections, but are not typically involved in cancer immunotherapy.

In an e-mail, Bejerano elaborated on the company’s technology.

“ImmuneXcite has developed the mAbXcite platform technology, which enables the conjugation of this unique saccharide to monoclonal antibodies,” he wrote. “The antibodies provide the target specificity. As a result, cancer cells are coated with this fungal saccharide, and neutrophils are directed against these ‘fungi looking’ tumors, leading to their destruction.”

ImmuneXcite was founded based on research originating from the Whitehead Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where a unique carbohydrate was shown to activate neutrophils.