CRISPR Pioneer Caribou Nets $115 Million to Advance Promising Pipeline
Caribou co-founder and CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna pictured above. (Brian Ach/Getty Images for Wired)
CRISPR pioneer Caribou Biosciences secured $115 million in an oversubscribed Series C financing round that will be used to advance the company’s pipeline of wholly-owned allogeneic immune cell therapies for oncology and its next-generation CRISPR technology platform.
Caribou co-founder and CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna said the company has leveraged its gene-editing technology platform to create a “promising clinical-stage therapeutic and a pipeline of pre-clinical allogeneic CAR-T and CAR-NK cell therapies that are potentially transformative for patients with unmet medical needs.”
Caribou has developed a next-generation CRISPR technology platform that has fueled a pipeline of allogeneic cell therapies for oncology with best-in-class potential including enhanced persistence of its off-the-shelf cell therapies, which are expected to drive the clinical durability of effect in multiple malignancies.
Caribou’s lead allogeneic CAR-T cell program CB-010 is currently in Phase I development for patients with relapsed/refractory B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. CB-010 targets CD19, a common target for leukemia immunotherapies. CB-010 is the first clinical-stage allogeneic CAR-T cell therapy in which PD-1 was genetically disrupted in the CAR-T genome. That led to more durable anti-tumor activity in pre-clinical studies, Caribous said.
In addition to CB-010, Caribou is assessing its second allogeneic CAR-T cell therapy, CB-011. This therapy targets BCMA for the treatment of relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma and is immunologically cloaked for enhanced persistence. CB-012, Caribou’s third allogeneic CAR-T cell therapy, targets CD371 for the treatment of relapsed/refractory acute myeloid leukemia.
Caribou is also developing iPSC-derived allogeneic natural killer (NK) cell therapies for solid tumor indications. Last month, Caribou announced a collaboration and license agreement with AbbVie for the research and development of two additional, unnamed CAR-T cell therapies.
“Given its pioneering and selective approach in the field, Caribou’s CRISPR technology platform should continue to serve as a powerful engine for therapeutic development,” Doudna said in a statement.
The Series $115 million C financing round was co-led by new premier healthcare investors Farallon Capital Management, PFM Health Sciences, and Ridgeback Capital Investments. AbbVie, Caribou’s recent CAR-T partner, also invested in the company through its venture arm, AbbVie Ventures.
Other new investors include Adage Capital Partners LP, Avego Bioscience Capital, Avidity Partners, Invus, Janus Henderson Investors, LifeSci Venture Partners, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Therapy Acceleration Program, Monashee Investment Management, LLC, Point72, and funds managed by Tekla Capital Management LLC. Existing investors participating in the round included Heritage Medical Systems, Maverick Ventures, and Pontifax Global Food and Agriculture Technology Fund (Pontifax AgTech).
Caribou President and Chief Executive Officer Rachel Haurwitz said the Series C funding will help fuel the company’s continued clinical advancement and also support its goal of bringing genome-edited immune cell therapies to patients as rapidly as possible.
Under terms of the financing deal, Santhosh Palani, Partner at PFM Health Sciences, and Jeffrey Long-McGie, Managing Director at Ridgeback Capital Investments, will join Caribou’s Board of Directors.