Cullinan Oncology Emerges With $150M and a Roster of All-Star Biotech Scientists

Cullinan Oncology Emerges With $150 Million and a Roster of All-Star Biotech Scientists
October 3, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – MPM Capital has launched another biotech company. Cullinan Oncology emerged from stealth mode with $150 million in Series A financing as well as a new strategy for tackling oncological drug development – a financial strategy that seeks to mitigate developmental risk.

The company, helmed by the former chief business officer at Intarcia Therapeutics Owen Hughes, is taking a shot at developing “high-value oncology therapeutics” using a “cost-efficient business model.” Hughes told Endpoints News that the company is something of a hybrid, a blend of a “fund and an operating company.” Essentially if the data does not look promising, the company will not be afraid to terminate the program and move on, Hughes told Xconomy.

CEO Hughes will bring his experience at Intarcia, a company that has secured hundreds of millions to develop its diabetes treatment technologies, coupled with 16 years as a director at Bain Capital. While at Intarcia, he was responsible for business development, M&A, and financing.

The $150 million combined with “the talent and structural advantages of Cullinan” will allow the company to develop a pipeline that Owens said will improve the standard of care of cancer patients. In its announcement, Cullinan did not disclose the types of cancer it was targeting, nor the kinds of drugs it intends to develop. There is also no information provided on the company website.

In an interview with Xconomy, Hughes and other Cullinan executives described the company’s drug development plan. The company aims to have eight to 12 drugs in development with each drug having a “dedicated chief executive.” But instead of building a research team for each drug, Cullinan scientists will share resources within the company and will also contract with outside research organizations to help with the development.

The research teams will be led by Cullinan’s Chief Scientific Officer of Biologics Patrick Baeuerle, who is also the managing director at MPM and a co-founder of Cullinan.

“We look forward to capitalizing on recent scientific breakthroughs across a broad range of cancer targets and therapeutic modalities. The pace of discovery in oncology is nearly unmatched, and will continue to drive better outcomes for patients,” Baeuerle said in a statement.

In addition to Cullinan, Baeuerle has had a hand in starting up other companies for MPM including Harpoon Therapeutics and iOMX. Baeuerle also served as a head of research at Amgen and was CSO of Micromet.

Alongside Baeuerle will be Leigh Zawel, who will serve as CSO of Small Molecules. Zawel previously served as East Coast site head for Pfizer ’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation. While at Pfizer, he managed a portfolio of large and small molecule projects spanning oncology, immunology and rare disease.

Cullinan’s Series A financing was supported by the UBS Oncology Impact Fund (OIF) managed by MPM Capital.

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