Money on the Move: April 6-13

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Companies working on cell therapies got most of the funding in the life sciences venture capital world this week. For that and more, continue reading. 

CDR-Life Nets $76M to Engage T Cells Against Solid Tumors

CDR-Life, a Switzerland-based company creating differentiated classes of tumor-specific immuno-oncology therapeutics, closed a $76 million round of Series A financing. The financing was led by investors Jeito Capital, RA Capital Management and Omega Funds, and several of the CEOs and managing directors of these companies are also joining the board of directors at CDR-Life as part of the funding deal.

The $76 million will help advance CDR’s lead program CDR404, a dual MAGE-A4 T cell engaging therapy that targets solid tumors. The financing will also expand the pipeline of the company’s M-gager® technology, a platform that targets intracellular antigens to attach to specific types of solid tumors.

Versant's Cimeio Therapeutics Launches  

Switzerland also boasted a large round of funding for Cimeio Therapeutics, a novel cell therapy startup that scooped up $50 million in Series A financing. Versant Ventures, a longtime investing leader in cell therapy startups, financed the round. With the cash, Cimeio plans to support its four lead clinical programs that are finding cell-cloaking therapies for hematologic oncology, autoimmune disorders and genetic diseases.

“Versant has been excited to grow Cimeio because of its achievements in ultra-precision cell treatments,” said Alex Mayweg, Ph.D., managing director at Versant and a member of Ceimeio’s board.

Aurion is the Week's Big Winner with $120M

Aurion Biotech scored a whopping $120 million in a round of funding led by Deerfield Management, Flying L Partners and Petrichor Healthcare Capital Management. The massive sum will be used for Aurion’s cell therapy programs to treat corneal edema secondary to endothelial dysfunction. The funding comes after Aurion shared positive data from a clinical trial, and investors saw potential in the platform to treat the $16 million people in the U.S., Japan and Europe who are suffering from rare eye diseases. The money won’t just be handed, over, though—the investors noted that the money will have to be earned in portions as Aurion hits clinical and operational milestones.

Turn Scores New Funding to Propel Lead Asset

Silicon Valley-based Turn Biotech scored funding from collaborators Daewoong Pharmaceutical and HanAll Biopharma. The expanded partnership and extra funding will create a runway for Turn’s novel mRNA medicines. Turn Biotech is focused on cell therapy repair and epigenetic programming of cells to help treat dermatologic conditions, immune problems, osteoarthritis and muscular system diseases. Most of the funding will be used for Turn’s lead candidate TRN-001, an mRNA cell therapy that treats dermatologic conditions.

"The support of Daewoong Pharmaceutical and HanAll Biopharma validates our approach to cellular rejuvenation and enables Turn to expand its efforts in multiple therapeutic indications," said Anja Krammer, CEO of Turn Biotechnologies.

Surf Runs as High as $16M in Seed Round

Breakout Ventures and Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Fund led a $16 million series seed financing for Surf Bio, a Palo Alto-based biopharma company creating a novel drug stabilization platform. The investors were intrigued by Surf Bio’s platform, which creates polymer-based drugs and has the potential to make ultra-rapid insulin for diabetes. The funding will also go toward some of Surf’s other programs, which are working on stabilizing medications that require refrigeration and medications that require a transition from IV to subcutaneous administration.

Ansa's DNA Synthesis Worth $68M Series A

Ansa Biotechnologies closed an oversubscribed Series A financing round worth $68 million this week. Investors such as Northpond Ventures, Horizons Ventures, RA Capital and Blue Water Life Science Advisors helped add to the funding, bringing Ansa’s total funding from private investors to $82 million. The funds will go toward R&D support and manufacturing facilities so Ansa can continue developing its enzymatic DNA synthesis technology based on polymerase-nucleotide conjugates.

“We are excited to further our partnership with Ansa to support the development of this powerful technology, addressing synthetic biology’s burning need for improved writing of the DNA code,” said Patrick Zhang from Horizons Ventures.

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