Tagworks Pharmaceuticals started as a spin-off from Philips Research and has now successfully completed a major investment round. The financial boost provides the resources to initiate clinical trials with the company’s lead candidate ADC which targets solid tumors.   

Nijmegen-based Tagworks Pharmaceuticals has successfully closed a so-called Series A investment round. It involves a total of €60 million raised by Dutch Gilde Healthcare and four international parties: Ysios Capital, Novartis Venture Fund, New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Lightstone Ventures.   

Tagworks is developing new chemistry to broaden the therapeutic applicability of antibody drug conjugates, ADCs. Here, the company’s Click-to-Release technology plays a central role. The current generation of ADCs, which are mainly used as anticancer therapies, are very potent, but their application scope is limited. ‘Current ADCs are designed to release their therapeutic payload only after uptake by the tumour cell,’ says Marc Robillard, co-founder and ceo of Tagworks, ‘but not all potential cancer targets are internalising; in other words, able to pull substances in.’   

Cytotoxic payloads

According to Robillard, however, there are many more receptors and markers that can serve as leads for therapy. ‘With our Click-to-Release technology, we bring those targets within reach.’ As the name suggests, click chemistry forms the basis of this technology. Not just to click substances together, but to ‘unclick’ a payload at the same time. That payload can be anything, but Tagworks is currently focusing on cytotoxic substances used against cancer. 

This ‘unclicking’ allows the toxic payload to be released without requiring uptake by the tumour cell. This also makes non-internalising receptors suitable for targeting ADCs. This increases the possibilities of using ADC therapy for more tumour types and thus for larger groups of patients. With the new financial boost, Tagworks hopes to start clinical trials with their lead candidate product, TGW101. This is a click-off ADC that targets TAG72, tumour-associated glycoprotein 72, a clinically validated target expressed in many different solid tumours.   

Tagworks’ successful investment round follows on other recent good news from the Dutch chemistry and life sciences start-up field. Earlier this month, it was announced that Synaffix from Oss, also active in the field of ADCs, was acquired by Swiss contract manufacturer Lonza for €160 million.  


Disclaimer: Esther Thole, editor-in-chief of C2W | Mens & Molecule / C2W International, is the partner of Tagworks ceo Marc Robillard.