Money on the Move: January 19 – 25
Temps are falling and so is investor cash. Here's which biotech companies are scooping up the dollars this week.
NextGen gene editor Metagenomi scored big with its Series B round, bringing in $175 million for its gene-editing therapeutic programs. With plans to expand manufacturing, AI infrastructure and new gene-editing tools for CRISPR systems, ultra-small base editors and CAST systems, the funds are heavily earmarked already. The current pipeline includes liver targets, a hemophilia A and cystic fibrosis programs along with cell therapies for immuno-oncology. Metagenomi is already in cahoots with Moderna in a deal to develop new gene-editing systems for in vivo human therapies utilizing the latter’s mRNA platform and lipid nanoparticle delivery technologies. Moderna was a participant in this latest round.
Using AI to drive precision medicine for gastroenterology, Iterative Scopes quintupled its raise last fall, securing $150 million in its Series B round. The funds will funnel into its core algorithmic innovations, with a focus on IBD and colorectal cancer prevention. In general, GI has seen less precision medicine advances than oncology and infectious diseases. Iterative’s technology makes it quicker and easier for patients to get an accurate diagnosis for better, personalized care. Current software solutions include a recruitment service for IBD clinical trials, an automated polyp detection tool that has already been approved in Europe, and a novel endoscopic scoring system.
With an antibody licensed from Janssen, this Netherlands-based biotech is swiftly moving towards in-human studies for its mucosal protection products. This week’s $140 million Series B will serve to advance its lead, PanFlu, to the clinic. Based on a human monoclonal antibody, the intra-nasal delivery shows promise in protecting against influenza A and B strains as an additional means to control influenza infections. Other products in the works are intended to provide broad protection against influenza and coronaviruses, both known agents and new and emerging variants.
It was a busy week for ImmPACT when the company announced a $111 million Series B, a new board chair, new president and CEO, and provided an update on its Phase I study. To take the helm, the California company brought in a fresh face whose doctorate is in experimental pathology in the study of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a good fit for ImmPACT’s focus. Its current Phase I study is in a CAR-T therapy for patients with relapsed/refractory B-cell Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. So far, the tolerability profile has been promising. Phase II trials for the treatment are anticipated in early 2023.
Backed by industry giant Bayer, Cellino completed its Series A round with $80 million to show for it. Cellino is a closed loop cell therapy manufacturing biotech with the goal of producing stem cell-0based therapies without human intervention. Traditional therapies are cumbersome and labor-intensive. Combining AI and laser technology will offer to automate most of the labor to provide large scale, faster manufacturing, increasing accessibility to patients in need. The funds will flow into Cellino’s software, machine learning and hardware capabilities for stem cell therapies. Plans are underway to build the first autonomous human cell foundry in 2025.
With camps set up in New Jersey, Philadelphia and Copenhagen, the new kid on the block Ceptur launched with $75 million in hand for its U1 adaptors. According to its co-founder, “U1 Adaptors are small, synthetic RNA oligonucleotides that engage the U1 small nuclear ribonuclear protein (U1 snRNP), which is a ubiquitous intracellular RNA-protein complex that controls the expression levels and maturation of endogenous mRNA.” Focused on diseases where changing the expression levels or splice isoforms of the pre-mRNA of specific genes might provide treatment, Ceptur is advancing its pipeline for oncology and CNS conditions with discovery programs in nephrology and immunology.
On a mission to democratize cutting-edge science, ONI has developed a desktop Nonimager microscopy platform able to observe single molecules in single cells “enabling researchers to develop new angles to explore and understand the complexity of biological systems at super-resolution" according to the press release. Last week’s $75 million Series B will drive commercialization and technology adoption in the US and Asia while adding to its consumables portfolio and software apps. ONI also expanded its exec team with five new hires.
Launching into the precision oncology scene with a $64 million Series A, Alterome also bolstered its roster naming one co-founder as CEO/CSO and adding the other to the board of directors and scientific advisory board. The funds will fuel the fledgling’s oncology pipeline, particularly for the creation of alteration-specific therapies.
Hailing from the shores of San Francisco, 64x landed $54 million to fund the expansion of its novel cell engineering platform, VectorSelect. The platform increases the speed and scale of mammalian cell line discovery shows promise in developing treatments for chronic or severe illnesses, injuries and possibly even changing the way we age. Funds will fuel 64x’s cell engineering development to make it scalable, add to the team and snag some new partnerships with leading gene therapy companies.
This British pharma is six years out from its founding and just roped $54 million for its Series A round. The funds will boost drug discovery for its fibrosis and cancer pipelines as well as expand its team, facilities and operations. Engitix has developed a platform for discovering human extracellular matrix drug targets and has two partnerships already in the works utilizing the platform.