Sana Biotechnology Snags $700 Million in Initial Financing Round
Sana Biotechnology, which launched last year, raised $700 million in initial financing that will be used to advance the company’s discovery and development programs that create and deliver engineered cells as a treatment for different disease types.
Founded by Hans Bishop, the former chief executive officer of Juno Therapeutics, Seattle-based Sana’s programs include gene delivery, immunology, stem cell biology, and gene modification and control. In 2019, Sana was initially supported by investments from Flagship Pioneering, ARCH Venture Partners & F-Prime Capital. That financial support has continued in 2020 with the latest funding for the company. In addition to those three investors, the company has been supported by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Baillie Gifford, Alaska Permanent Fund, the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, Bezos Expeditions, GV, Omega Funds, Altitude Life Science Ventures, and multiple unnamed institutional investors.
Since its launch, the company has been fairly quiet about its ongoing operations, but with the significant investment, that could change. Sana CEO Steve Harr said the commitment from its long-term investors will enable the company to focus on the challenges of developing cell and gene therapies that can improve the lives of patients.
“Sana is dedicated to modulating genes in cells as well as replacing damaged cells in the body. I am proud of our progress to date in turning our technologies into potential therapies for serious diseases such as cancer, central nervous system diseases, heart disease and various genetic disorders,” Harr said in a statement.
Some of the approaches the company is using include the in vivo delivery of genetic payloads to specific cells, ex vivo genetic modifications that hide allogeneic cells from a patient's immune system, and applying stem cell biology to make differentiated cells to replace missing or damaged tissue.
With the $700 million war chest, Sana said it anticipates the use of the funds to support IND-enabling and initial clinical studies for multiple therapeutic candidates, buildout of manufacturing capabilities, and expansion of the company's portfolio of enabling technologies. The company also expects to bolster its team with additional hires. On its external jobs portal, Sana lists a number of open positions, including multiple research assistant roles.
Following its launch last year, Sana licensed technology from Harvard University that has the potential to boost the success of cell therapy treatments. The technology licensed provides for a method of producing hypoimmunogenic stem cells that can be differentiated into any cell type and then transplanted into a patient without triggering immune rejection. Sana plans to take the technology and create hypoimmunogenic pluripotent stem cells to use as the starting material to develop novel cell therapies.