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Rich Klinghoffer first joined Presage as the company’s chief science officer and its second employee. He was appointed its CEO Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Presage Biosciences)

Cancer technology maker Presage Biosciences has raised $6 million and appointed a new CEO as it moves to support the wider use of its cancer drug testing device. Biotech giants Takeda and Celgene co-led the round of funding.

The company’s CIVO platform allows drug developers to quickly test potential cancer drugs in human tumors without conducting a time-consuming and costly Phase I clinical trial, speeding up the testing of new therapies.

“We are thrilled to have closed this financing with long-time Presage strategic partners, Takeda and Celgene,” Dave Johnson, the chair of Presage’s board of directors, said in a press release. “This $6M investment brings the total equity raised by Presage to $26M and comes at an important time for Presage as we aim to broaden the use of the CIVO platform in clinical intratumoral microdosing studies with a range of biopharma partners.”

The company also announced that longtime CEO Nathan Caffo, Presage’s first employee, is stepping down from the CEO role. He will be replaced by Presage’s former chief science officer and its second employee, Rich Klinghoffer. Caffo will continue to serve as a strategic advisor to the company.

Presage’s CIVO device injects microdoses of cancer drugs directly into patients’ tumors for testing. (Presage Photo)

“When Nathan and I joined Presage as the first two employees of the company, it was because we recognized the transformative potential of the CIVO platform to enable faster proof-of-concept studies for early stage drug candidates,” Klinghoffer said in a press release. “Given the well-known lack of translation of animal models to the human clinic, we are excited to provide an approach that allows our partners to test assets in the context where they are ultimately intended to be used – the human cancer patient.”

The CIVO platform uses a novel approach to inject tiny microdoses of potential cancer drugs directly into patients’ tumors. The doses are tagged with fluorescent microspheres to make them easier to track and distinguish.

After 24 to 96 hours, the tumor is surgically removed and examined to see the effect of the different microdoses. The process lets drug developers see how drug candidates behave in human tumors, normally a hurdle in the development pipeline that requires a full-fledged clinical trial.

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