Trio of Biopharmas Generates Over $500 Million for AI, Oncology Innovation
This week, three global biopharmaceutical companies received over half a billion dollars to support research and development initiatives in the treatment of rare and deadly diseases.
TrialSpark Raises $156 Million to Build a Full Stack Pharma Company
TrialSpark, a tech-driven company that runs end-to-end clinical trials, has finally stepped out of its comfort zone to create a next-generation pharmaceutical firm that aims to bring new therapies faster and more efficiently to all patients. The company scored a total of $156 million through a Series C funding round recently, which will be used to acquire and/or partner on clinical stage pharma assets and invest in biotech firms that have promising drug candidates ready for development.
The move is inspired by the need to expedite the development of much-needed therapies and go over the hump of the long-winding and cost-prohibitive clinical trial process. At present, the time and cost of development, plus rising healthcare costs, are affecting the delivery of medications to patients who need them immediately. By setting up its pharma arm, TrialSpark hopes to be able to run clinical trials faster and cheaper.
"A lot of people complain about the mournful cost of bringing a new drug to market, but TrialSpark is actually doing something about it. Clinical trials are needlessly complex and expensive, and this directly contributes to the cost of drugs and keeps many promising drugs from ever coming to market. TrialSpark can fix this," said Sam Altman, chief executive officer of OpenAI, in a statement.
The funds will also be used to scale the TrialSpark team in New York and remotely. New and existing investors contributed to the latest funding round, including Sequoia Capital, Thrive Capital, Casdin Capital, Spark Capital, Dragoneer, John Doerr, and Arrowmark.
CBMG Holdings Generates $120 Million for Immune-Oncology Arm
Cayman Island biopharma CBMG Holdings acquired a $120 million Series A investment from new and existing investors to accelerate the clinical development of its immune-oncology platform, specifically the one that involves C-CAR039 and C-CAR088.
C-CAR039 is an anti-CD19/CD20 biospecific CAR-T therapy used for patients diagnosed with relapsed or refractory non-Hodgkin lymphoma (r/r NHL), while C-CAR088 is a B cell maturation antigen (BCMA) therapy for those with late-stage relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma. Part of the funds will also go toward armored CAR-T therapies and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) therapies that target solid tumors and the development of its stem cell platform, among other initiatives.
CBMG, originally from China, completed its privatization in February and has since been growing its research and development and cell and gene therapy manufacturing presence. The company currently has a state-of-the-art facility in Rockville, Maryland. CBMG conducts immuno-oncology and stem cell clinical trials in China using products from its integrated GMP laboratory. Its ongoing studies include CAR-T therapies that target blood cancers, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and different types of solid tumors.
Exscientia Scores $304.7 Million From IPO
UK-based AI-driven pharmatech company Exscientia announced the pricing of its upsized initial public offering in the U.S., which translates to a total of around $304.7 million from the sale of 13,850,000 American Depositary Shares. The ADSs are expected to start trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market today under the ticker symbol EXAI.
The company has also granted a 30-day option to purchase an additional 2,077,500 ADSs at IPO price, minus commissions and underwriting discounts. The IPO is set to close on October 5, pending the fulfillment of customary closing requirements.
Exscientia is the developer of the first-ever functional precision oncology platform, which guides treatment selection, improves patient outcomes in clinical studies, and progresses AI-designed small molecules into the clinical environment. The company currently has over 25 projects in development, including the first three AI-designed drug candidates to enter Phase I clinical trials, including an A2a receptor antagonist for adult patients with advanced solid tumors.