Money on the Move – March 3-9
Last year was record breaking for biotech companies going public with 78 IPOs raking in $12 billion. In 2022, more money flows into the life sciences daily. Here’s who’s celebrating this week.
European life sciences venture capital firm Sofinnova Partners raised $540 million, positioning Sofinnova as the largest crossover investor in Europe dedicated to late-stage biopharma and medtech investments. So far, the fund has invested in 10 high-profile companies focused on major unmet clinical needs. The fund will maintain its focus on European clinical-stage companies needing scale-up capital and will also support best-in-class companies in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Century received a $160 million infusion of cash to advance the company’s pipeline of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived cell therapies for cancer. The Series C will drive its preclinical pipeline, which includes multiple iPSC-derived CAR-iT and CAR-iNK cell products, into the clinic over the next 12 months. Clinical testing is anticipated in 2022 along with multiple IND applications over the next several years.
atai Life Sciences
Backed by big-name investors like PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, atai brought in $157 million in a Series D round for expanding its mental health drug pipeline. "This marks a monumental moment for atai; we continue on our mission challenging the current way mental health conditions are treated. We have become better equipped than ever to accelerate the development of more efficacious treatments," said Florian Brand, CEO & co-founder of atai.
With T Cell therapies all the rage as the next big thing in solid tumor treatments, safety data has limited the potential. Amunix may have found the fix by “masking” its antibodies to sneak therapies into the tumor’s environment without the safety risks of other immunotherapies. The company’s “universal mask” technology was promising enough to snag a $117 million in a Series B raise to take a shot in the clinic. AMX-818, a masked, protease-activated T cell engager (XPAT®) targeting HER2-expressing solid tumors will be the first candidate to advance.
CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna’s company rounded up $115 million in an oversubscribed Series C to advance a pipeline of wholly-owned allogeneic immune cell therapies for oncology and next-generation CRISPR technology platform. Doudna said Caribou is creating a “promising clinical-stage therapeutic and a pipeline of pre-clinical allogeneic CAR-T and CAR-NK cell therapies that are potentially transformative for patients with unmet medical needs.”
Designing drugs using AI increases chances of success in the clinic and speeds drug discovery. AI-driven Exscientia brought in $100 million last week in a Series C to take its platform towards autonomous drug design and extend its pipeline into clinical trials. With big-name partnerships in drug discovery, the pharmatech created the first fully AI-designed drug to enter clinical trials.
Focused on next gen antibody-based therapeutics, this biotech startup raised $100 million in its fourth round of financing. Funds will be used to take current pipeline candidates into clinical development and construction of a new manufacturing facility. Biotheus currently has over 10 antibodies in the pipeline with two bispecific candidates in Phase I for cancer and a third with an IND application waiting for approval. The company hopes to have five drugs in clinical development by the end of the year.
This biopharma startup raised $71 million in its Series A to “bring new hope to cancer patients through deeper science and innovative drug design,” according to CEO Dr. J. Jean Cui. Funds will be used to advance R&D efforts for precision cancer therapies using small molecule drugs.
Nearly ready to advance its first candidate into the clinic, Janux scooped up $56 million in a Series A. Collaborating with pharma-giant Merck, the company’s proprietary Tumor Activated T Cell Engager (TRACTrTM) technology is designed to overcome limitations of current T cell immuno-oncology therapies. Funds will be used to advance the preclinical pipeline, including a TROP2-TRACTr and PSMA-TRACTr, toward the clinic with a target date in the first half of 2022.
Boulder-based cancer treatment developer OnKure raised $55 million last week in a Series B round. It’s a good step up from the company’s Series A of $7 million. OnKure is currently in a collaborative clinical trial evaluating the use of Pfizer’s Mektovi in combination with OnKure’s OKI-179 for NRAS melanoma. These funds will be used to advance the biopharma’s next generation histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors further into clinical development and fund a growing pipeline of earlier stage molecules.
Less than two months after bacterial vaccine company Affinivax’s Series C financing, the company is getting a $22 million boost from infectious disease consortium Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) to push forward a vaccine for tough-to-treat preclinical Staphylococcus aureus, funding the candidate through the end of Phase I testing. Affinivax has been bringing in the cash with $226 million raised in January and $120 million last year. Through the new grant, CARB-X will fund all development of Affinivax’s vaccine against S. aureus.