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Antibody Startup Adagio Raises $336 Million To Develop A Variant-Proof Treatment For COVID-19

Apr 19, 2021   |   Forbes

"[Dartmouth Engineering Professor] Tillman Gerngross has a simple goal: he wants to find one antibody that can both treat and prevent COVID-19, no matter how much the virus mutates," reports Forbes. "While many biotech companies are obsessed with making a vaccine, Gerngross' company Adagio is going all-in on the promise of monoclonal antibodies, engineered human antibodies that can bind with and neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It already has a promising candidate: ADG20, which just started human clinical trials last week. With a new $336 million Series C funding announced on Monday, the company plans to take ADG20 through trials and to the FDA for an Emergency Use Authorization by the end of the year.

"The current COVID-19 pandemic, says Gerngross, 'is just the tip of the iceberg.' He and cofounder Laura Walker think that there's a good chance another pandemic could be ignited by a similar type of coronavirus in the future — and they plan to be ready. They decided that if they were going to enter the space of antibody development, 'we should do it in a way that’s responsive to the more global threat,' he says.

"Adagio has moved quickly — this is its third funding round in less than a year. Combined, the company has raised a total of $466 million since it was spun out of one of Gerngross' other companies, Adimab, in July 2020. Adimab made a name for itself by using its proprietary platform to discover potentially therapeutic antibodies, which it then sells to other companies. 'Adimab never develops anything, we just discover and let other people deal with the development,' Gerngross says. But when Walker approached him about developing an antibody treatment for COVID-19, Gerngross was intrigued. Out of the 300 drug discovery programs that Adimab has done in its 14 years as a company, ADG20 is the first it plans to develop in-house via Adagio."

..."The infusion of new cash will allow the company to expand its global clinical trial and make sure that ADG20 is really the superhero that they suspect. 'It’s one thing to prove it in a mouse or assay,' Gerngross says, 'but it’s a whole other thing to prove it in clinical trials.' The company announced on April 13th that it was launching a phase 1/2/3 clinical trial in multiple countries, including regions which have high rates of COVID-19 variants including South Africa and countries in South America and the E.U.. And in the future, Gerngross says, it might move beyond Covid-19 and on to other diseases with pandemic potential. 'We think there are other diseases that could benefit from a similar approach,' he says."

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