TORL BioTherapeutics Launches with $158 Million Series B Financing to Advance Development of Novel Oncology Biologics

- Co-founded by acclaimed oncologist Dennis Slamon, M.D., Ph.D., of University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and entrepreneur and CEO David Licata, as well as leadership from a distinguished set of industry veterans, including Executive Chairman Mark Alles, former Chairman and CEO of Celgene Corporation.

- Funding to advance TORL-1-23, a first-in-class, clinical-stage ADC targeting Claudin 6, TORL-2-307, a clinical-stage ADC targeting Claudin 18.2 and other novel clinical and preclinical stage programs.

April 13, 2023

LOS ANGELESApril 13, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — TORL BioTherapeutics LLC (TORL), a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing new biologics for cancer treatment, announced today its public launch and the closing of a $158 million Series B financing. TORL’s pipeline of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) were discovered in the laboratory of scientific co-founder Dennis Slamon, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine, and Chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM). He is an accomplished physician and scientist whose research was pivotal in identifying HER2 as a target in breast cancer and the development and initial approval of trastuzumab (Herceptin). Dr. Slamon’s lab went on to discover CDK4/6 as an important target in hormone receptor (HR+) positive breast cancer. Subsequently, his group led the clinical development of CDK4/6 inhibitors, resulting in breakthrough status therapies palbociclib (Ibrance) and ribociclib (Kisqali), in HR+ breast cancer.

TORL is built on a strategic partnership with the Slamon Research Lab at UCLA, whereby the Company has exclusive development and commercial rights to biologics-based drug candidates focused on promising cancer targets. TORL’s lead drug programs target Claudin 6 (CLDN 6) and Claudin 18.2 (CLDN 18.2), both of which are currently in clinical trials. The Company also expects to put 2-3 additional compounds into clinical trials over the next 12 months, with plans to advance 1-2 new compounds each year.

“It has been very rewarding to use 30 years of experience, lessons learned, and preclinical models developed in our lab for this new company for,” said Dennis Slamon, M.D., Ph.D., Co-Founder of TORL. “This unique academic/corporate partnership allows us to quickly identify novel targets, validate them preclinically, then proceed to bring these new biologic treatments into clinical testing and development in an exceptionally rapid and efficient manner. Our goal is to develop compounds that address critical or as yet unmet medical needs while simultaneously providing new and effective treatment options for cancer patients that can be life and practice changing. There are more of these to come, and we are thrilled we have this partnership to expand cancer therapy.”

Leveraging the Slamon research lab’s unique discovery engine and validation platforms, TORL was founded to promote its novel oncology biologics with industry leading speed and capital efficiency. Since its inception in 2018, TORL has moved forward three, internally developed drug programs into the clinic and advanced two more through IND-enabling studies with less than $50 million.

“It has been tremendously gratifying to pioneer TORL’s innovative approach to drug discovery and development, culminating in the launch of multiple clinical trials with our drugs over the past year”, said David Licata, TORL’s CEO. “We created and demonstrated an original, capital efficient structure which, despite the challenging market conditions, attracted a distinguished group of biotech investors with a shared vision for rapid cancer drug development. With the close of this Series B financing, we can advance our new programs into the clinic and existing clinical-stage programs into the next phase.”

“Despite meaningful advances in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, most patients worldwide continue to face serious morbidity and significant mortality,” said Mark Alles, TORL’s Executive Chairman. “With strong support from our highly accomplished investors, we are building a preeminent biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery, development and commercialization of first and best-in-class antibody-based immunotherapies to improve and extend the lives of people living with this terrible disease.”

“TORL represents a unique model for company formation. Through their holistic relationship with the Slamon research lab and UCLA, the Company can leverage decades of scientific expertise and deep research capabilities while avoiding the significant costs and risks associated with early-stage discovery,” said Amit Sinha, Head of Life Sciences Investing within Goldman Sachs Asset Management. “We believe TORL-1-23 and TORL-2-307 represent promising potential therapies for ovarian and gastric cancers, two indications with significant unmet patient need. We look forward to partnering with the TORL team to rapidly advance the lead programs toward late-stage clinical trials while progressing the broader portfolio of novel programs.”

TORL builds on a 30-year history of scientific collaboration amongst a team of clinical pioneers and laboratory researchers. In addition to Dr. Dennis Slamon, the scientific founding team includes:

  • John Glaspy, M.D., MPH, Professor of Medicine, DGSOM, UCLA
  • Neil O’Brien, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicine, DGSOM, UCLA
  • Martina McDermott, Ph.D., Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine, DGSOM, UCLA
  • Ben Hoffstrom, Ph.D., Adjunct Assistant Professor, Medicine, DGSOM, UCLA
  • Sarah Larson, M.D., Assistant Professor, Medicine DGSOM, UCLA
  • Mike Press, M.D., Ph.D, Professor of Pathology, Keck School of Medicine of USC

With scientific advisors including Tom Boone, Ph.D., Brian Lawliss, Ph.D., and Leonard Presta, Ph.D.

TORL Board of Directors

  • Mark Alles – Executive Chairman
  • Mark Attanasio – Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Crescent Capital Group LP
  • David Licata – Co-Founder and CEO
  • Neil O’Brien, Ph.D. – Co-Founder
  • Amit Sinha – Partner, Goldman Sachs
  • Lynn Seely, M.D. – President and CEO of Lyell Immunopharma
  • Dennis Slamon, M.D., Ph.D. – Co-Founder

TD Cowen acted as exclusive placement agent for the Series B financing.
Crandon Law LLC served as counsel to TORL BioTherapeutics LLC.
Latham & Watkins LLP. served as counsel to Goldman, Sachs & Co. LLC.

About TORL BioTherapeutics

TORL BioTherapeutics LLC is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company with the objective of developing novel, antibody-based therapeutics to transform the lives of cancer patients. Its lead candidate, TORL-1-23, is a CLDN6-directed ADC developed for patients across multiple cancer types. The Company also has two other clinical-stage programs; an ADC and mAb targeting CLDN 18.2. Additionally, TORL is developing a broad pipeline of novel preclinical ADCs and mAb in oncologic indications with a high unmet medical need. TORL is headquartered in Los Angeles.