Biopharma Money on the Move: October 28 – November 3

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Find out which biopharma companies are raking in the cash this week, as companies from around the globe provide updates on their financing rounds and IPOs. 

CARsgen Therapeutics 

Based in Shanghai with operations in both China and the U.S., CARsgen has had a series of wins in 2020, including a $186 million Series C financing round completed just this week. CARsgen is a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company focused on first-in-class and best-in-class CAR T-cell and antibody therapeutics. The company's candidate CT041 received IND clearance for claudin18.2-positive solid tumors, followed by orphan drug designation for the treatment of gastric and gastroesophageal junction cancers. CARsgen also received a positive EMA opinion on its CT053 CAR T-cell therapy for the treatment of multiple myeloma. "I am pleased that CARsgen has repeatedly received recognition and support from leading financial institutes and professional investors. This Series C funding will accelerate CARsgen's ongoing clinical trials in China, the United States, and Europe, and will support expanding our commercial manufacturing facilities," said Dr. Zonghai Li, Founder, President, CEO, and CSO of CARsgen.

Gracell Biotechnologies 

Also out of Shanghai with its eye on CAR T-cell therapies for the treatment of cancer, Gracell scooped up $100 million in their Series C. Gracell uses its proprietary platform technology TruUCAR to manufacture its candidates with selected genes being edited to avoid GvHD and immune rejection without the need for strong immunosuppressive drugs. In April, the company reported positive early efficacy outcomes in initial first-in-human trial in five patients with T-ALL, a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The second platform is called FasTCAR, in which Gracell is able to deliver younger, less exhausted T-cells for autologous cell therapies with greater potency and next-day manufacturing. Lilly Asia Ventures hedged its bets for CAR T-cell therapies by participating in the rounds for both CARsgen and Gracell.

Q32 Bio 

Q32 has taken 2020 by storm – launching in May with $46 million, dosing its first clinical trial patient and sealing the deal on a $60 million Series B on October 29. Originally planned to conduct its ADX-914 study in the Netherlands, Q32 made the quick switch to Australia due to regulatory restrictions prompted by COVID-19. ADX-914 is targeting Sjogren's disease in this clinical trial, by inhibiting the IL-7R signaling to re-regulate the adaptive immune function that causes autoimmune disease. Proceeds from the funding are intended to propel ADX-914 through demonstration of proof-of mechanism as well as take Q32’s groundbreaking tissue-targeted complement regulation platform to clinic.  

Elpis Biopharmaceuticals 

Partnered with an unnamed global pharmaceutical company, Elpis Biopharmaceuticals launched with a $30 million series A along with $10 million in seed funding. The financing will propel the company's solid tumor and hematological disease therapeutics through pre-clinical studies. Elpis’ mRNADis antibody discovery and mSCAFold rational protein engineering platforms enable rapid and robust discovery of novel bi-specific antibodies, dual targeting and armored CAR-T, and mechanism re-directed immunomodulator proteins. The company hopes to engineer better treatment options for cancer patients through its biologics platform. 

Advanced Chemotherapy Technologies 

This $5.5 million Series A will help ACT advance its ACT-IOP-003 system to clinical development for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. The novel implantable drug delivery system will use a mild electric current to deliver the chemotherapy drug, gemcitabine, through the dense tumor microenvironment directly to the tumor. This approach minimizes system toxicity commonly associated with chemo treatments for pancreatic cancer, optimized the amount of drug that reaches the tumor, increases tumor shrinkage for surgical resection, the only curative treatment for pancreatic cancer. In preclinical studies, 100% of pancreatic cancer tumors treated with the device using gemcitabine shrunk by an average of 40%, while tumors treated with intravenously delivered gemcitabine grew an average of 240%. Tony Voiers, CEO of ACT said, “We are now poised to move our lead product into the clinic, where we will have the opportunity to treat pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest of all cancers, and to continue to develop new applications for our novel drug delivery approach.” 

Massive Bio 

Massive Bio has seen a massive growth in demand for its AI-enabled patient centric oncology clinical trial enrollment this year accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. A $2.6 million infusion will enable the company to scale to meet the demands globally for its recruitment platform solutions. Only 3-5% of cancer patients participate in clinical trials, a statistic which has only decreased since the pandemic hit. “Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, the clinical trial industry needs a digital health technology solution to assist in study enrollment now more than ever,” said Cenk Bayrakdar, Revo Capital's Managing Director. “Massive Bio has a unique solution that was purpose-built to address the challenges associated with clinical trial recruitment challenges, which aligned with their patient-centric approach makes it a powerful solution for the industry, and we are excited to collaborate with and support them as they work to transform their ideas into a world-changing company.” 

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