Tessa Therapeutics, a biotech company based in Singapore, has halted its operations, according to Jason Rando, the chief operating officer of a media consulting firm that collaborated with Tessa.
Tessa informed its shareholders that it faced difficulties in securing additional funding or finding a buyer due to challenging market conditions. At present, the company’s website states that it is undergoing maintenance.
The closure of Tessa comes as an unexpected development, occurring just over a year after successfully raising $126 million in new financing, with Polaris Partners leading the funding round. The biotech had previously stated that the funds would be used to support its clinical cell therapy projects, particularly focusing on CD30-expressing cancer cells.
Tessa’s key assets were TT11 and TT11X, representing autologous and allogeneic candidates. During the financing announcement, the former acting CEO, John Ng, expressed confidence in Tessa’s future as a leader in the cell therapy industry, highlighting the potential of their cell therapy platforms and their technical expertise.
Initial data from Tessa’s ongoing phase 2 trial of TT11 showed promising results, including a 57.1% complete response rate among classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients and a 71.4% complete response rate overall.
The trial was expected to progress further in the middle of 2023. Tessa had previously conducted a phase 3 trial involving autologous cytotoxic T cells in patients who had undergone chemotherapy. However, the addition of immune therapy did not yield significant improvements compared to chemotherapy alone. While the lab-enhanced T-cell treatment resulted in a 57.3% partial response rate, the chemotherapy-only approach produced a higher rate of complete responses at 54.8%.
In 2017 they purchased Euchloe Bio, a business that specializes in the discovery, creation, engineering, and marketing of new, fully-human antibodies. 2019 saw Tessa and China-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City (CSGKC) establish a US$120 million joint venture to carry out clinical studies in China for its cell treatments, which target cancer in patients with solid tumors and hematological malignancies.
Tessa had pursued an ambitious strategy for partnering and business development, which saw notable achievements in 2017. Collaborations were established with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and Vyriad, a manufacturer of oncolytic viruses. Additionally, Tessa expanded its portfolio by acquiring Euchloe Bio, which offered a range of checkpoint inhibitors. The company also experienced recent changes in its leadership, with Thomas Willemsen, a former executive at Takeda, assuming the role of CEO in August 2022. Willemsen had previously served as the Japanese pharmaceutical company’s Senior Vice President of Asia-Pacific operations.