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Aminex Therapeutics CEO and Chairman Jim Skaggs. (Aminex Therapeutics Photo)

Seattle startup Aminex Therapeutics announced $10 million in new funding Wednesday, alongside the first clinical trial of its immunotherapy drug. The drug will be studied as a treatment for multiple kinds of solid tumors, like lung and breast cancer.

The company has now raised $19 million total and employs a small team of about 5 full-time workers. A spokesperson declined to name its investors.

“Initiating this first trial of our unique immunotherapy approach represents a significant milestone for Aminex Therapeutics,” Aminex CEO and Chairman Jim Skaggs said in a press release. “We are extremely excited to begin clinical evaluation of this investigational therapy that has demonstrated significant promise in many preclinical studies involving multiple animal solid tumor cancer models.”

The company’s drug, referred to as AMXT 1501, is a type of immunotherapy that works by disabling the tactics that cancer cells use to avoid the body’s immune system. When that happens, the immune system automatically kicks in to fight cancer cells itself, essentially turning patient’s own bodies into weapons against the disease.

AMXT 1501 is a small molecule drug, which is not very common for immunotherapies. When taken with a molecule called DFMO — a drug already on the market as a treatment for African sleeping sickness — the drugs shut down the production of polyamines in tumor cells, preventing them from evading the body’s immune system.

The Phase I clinical trial of the drug will take place at four different sites across the U.S. and will enroll at least 50 patients with various solid tumor cancers. The first patient was dosed on June 12 at NEXT Oncology in San Antonio, Tex.

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