Celsius Nets $83M to Bring Precision IBD Treatment to Trial


Celsius Therapeutics, a biotech company that develops precision medicines for cancer and autoimmune diseases using a human tissue-based platform, raised $83 million in funding. The funding was partially an extension of a Series A round in addition to a Series B round. It also paves the way for several ambitious projects that Celsius announced in its recently released key initiatives for 2022.  

The Series A financing for Celsius was announced on May 15, 2018. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company raised $65 million in financing led by high-profile investors such as Third Rock Ventures, GV (formerly Google Ventures), Casdin Capital and Alexandria Venture Investments, among others.  

At the time, the company planned to use the Series A funding to sequence RNA of individual cells and achieve clinical trials within the next five years.  

Since then, Celsius has hit major milestones. The company reached its goal of sequencing single-cell RNA of over 1,000 clinical tissue samples using its single-cell observations for precision effect (SCOPE) platform, a platform that helps researchers discover therapeutic targets.  

The company has also struck partnerships with Harbour BioMed for monoclonal antibody drug discovery, with Johnson & Johnson's Janssen to identify predictive biomarkers for ulcerative colitis, and with multiple leading academic institutions, such as the University of Oxford and Cleveland Clinic, to work on treatments for inflammatory bowel disease.  

Now, Celsius is back with more funding. The extended Series A and the Series B financing included the same investors as Series A, but with some additional backers such as Heritage Provider Network, Amgen Ventures and Amplitude Ventures.  

The additional $83 million will help Celsius reach the new goals announced in its 2022 key initiatives press release. Its primary objective is to file an investigational new drug (IND) application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within the next year for its first clinical candidate, an anti-TREM1 antibody called CEL383.  

TREM1, which is a myeloid target that plays a major role in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), was the first target Celsius focused on, and now the anti-TREM1 CEL383 drug could be the first precision medicine to treat IBD. A Phase I study is anticipated in early 2023, which would hit the five-year mark announced in Celsius’ Series A press release.  

Celsius also plans to evaluate biomarkers for IBD to accelerate clinical studies.  

Another goal that the funding will support is working on Celsius’ oncology pipeline. The company’s SCOPE platform, which helps discover drugs, will focus on identifying targets for colorectal cancer. Additionally, a partnership with Servier, an independent pharmaceutical group, will work on establishing two drug discovery programs for oncology. Celsius plans to release more information on the oncology programs later in 2022.  

As the SCOPE platform uses some of the Series A/B funding and continues to search for targets, Celsius will keep building its clinically annotated, proprietary database of human tissue data.  

“2021 was a pivotal year of growth and advancement for Celsius,” said Tariq Kassum, M.D., president and CEO of Celsius. “We are excited to be fulfilling the vision of Celsius as we advance a potential first-in-class TREM1 antibody program for IBD and look to design smarter clinical studies based on biologic insights from our proprietary platform.” 

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