Cell Therapy Company Raises $160 Million to Advance iPSC-Derived Therapies to Clinic
This morning, the Philadelphia-based company announced a Series C financing round that will drive its preclinical pipeline, which includes multiple iPSC-derived CAR-iT and CAR-iNK cell products, into the clinic over the next 12 months. The company’s assets are designed to resist host rejection, enhance cell persistence, and allow repeat dosing to provide durable responses in all patients. Century Therapeutics, which launched in 2019, anticipates clinical testing to begin in 2022 and also predicts it will generate multiple Investigational New Drug applications over the next several years.
The company’s genetically engineered, iPSC-derived iNK and iT cell products are designed to specifically target hematologic and solid tumor cancers. Century’s iPSCs, which are stem cells that can be generated from adult stem cells, have unlimited self-renewing capacity, which enables multiple rounds of cellular engineering. According to the company, these engineering rounds will produce master cell banks of modified cells that can be expanded and differentiated into immune effector cells to supply vast amounts of allogeneic and homogeneous therapeutic products. This platform differentiates Century from competitors that are developing cell therapies made from non-renewable donor-derived cells.
The Series C financing round was led by Casdin Capital and include a number of new investors, including Fidelity Management & Research LLC, the Federated Hermes Kauffmann Funds, RA Capital, Logos Capital, OrbiMed, Marshall Wace, Qatar Investment Authority, Avidity Partners, and Octagon Capital. Founding investors Versant Ventures and Leaps by Bayer also participated in the latest fundraising.
“We are fortunate to be surrounded by such a top-tier group of investors, whose support will enable the acceleration of Century's technology platform into the clinic,” Lalo Flores, chief executive officer of Century Therapeutics said in a statement. “With this new investor partnership, we are well-positioned to capitalize on the tremendous potential of our integrated iPSC, cell engineering and manufacturing capabilities to develop safer, more effective and more affordable next generation allogeneic cancer therapies.”
Eli Casdin, chief investment of Casdin Capital, who joined the Century Therapeutics Board of Directors following this Series C, said he was excited to partner with the cell therapy company.
“It's a remarkable and transformative time in the field, with the ability to engineer cells for therapeutic impact now a commercial reality. At the same time, iPSC technology has matured and is now leading the transition from bespoke autologous products to off-the-shelf allogeneic ones,” Casdin said in a statement.
For Century Therapeutics, the financing round was announced about one month after the company expanded its capabilities with new laboratory manufacturing facilities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In addition to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey locations, Century has a laboratory in Hamilton, Ontario specifically focused on targeting glioblastoma, and recently opened a Seattle-based innovation hub to help advance the company's novel iPSC platform and support the continued pipeline growth and development.
Last year, Century Therapeutics acquired Empirica Therapeutics to leverage its iPSC-derived allogeneic cell therapies against glioblastoma, one of the most common types of primary brain tumor in adults.