New Jersey Startup Celularity Launches With Clinical Assets From Big Name Biotechs
Published: Aug 22, 2017
August 22, 2017
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
Warren, NJ – Celularity launched with an undisclosed Series A financing. Particularly notable investors include Sorrento Therapeutics, United Therapeutics Corporation (UTHR), and Human Longevity. The startup also launched with more than 200 issued and pending patents, preclinical and clinical assets and commercial products acquired from Celgene Corporation (CELG), Sorrento Therapeutics (SRNE) , and United Therapeutics and Human Longevity.
“Celularity was formed as a new biotechnology model designed to apply the necessary expertise to harness our placenta discovery platform across a range of unmet medical needs,” said Robert Hariri, the company’s founder and chief executive officer, in a statement. “With the support of our investors, we are assembling proven regenerative medicine technology and expertise with the goal of developing transformative therapies for fatal and intractable diseases.”
Hariri was previously the chairman, chief scientific officer and chief executive officer of Celgene Cellular Therapeutics. He also founded Anthrogenesis Corporation, which was acquired by Celgene in 2002, and co-founded Human Longevity.
In addition, Celularity picked up a proprietary allogeneic immunotherapy platform, fully human antibody-CAR constructs, IND-ready joint CD38 immuno-oncology programs, the LifeBankUSA stem cell biorepository, and two functional regeneration products, Biovance and Interfyl, as well as related pipeline assets.
The overall research focus of the company is based on novel biologically active cell populations in the human placenta that may have broad therapeutic potential. Its allogeneic platform leverages immune-tolerant cells and biomaterials from the donors to the LifebankUSA stem cell biorepository.
Andrew von Eschenbach, one of the founding members of the Celularity board of directors and a former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) , said in a statement, “The pioneering work of Celularity founder Bob Hariri has unleashed the unique properties of placental derived stem cells which have renewed hope for creating safe and effective therapies for the most challenging degenerative diseases. Celularity with its focus on accelerating innovation in regenerative medicine can become the leading catalyst for cell therapy to address many of the world’s unmet medical needs.”
Part of its focus will be on functional regeneration. Its biomaterial platforms have been cleared by the FDA and, the company states, can “uniquely enable functional restoration after disease or trauma, beyond mere functional recovery. The placenta-derived extracellular matrices pioneered by Celularity activate built-in mechanisms for cellular and molecular self-repair to functionally regenerate damaged and diseased tissues and organs.”
Sorrento Therapeutics invested $10 million into the company in exchange for a 25 percent stake in Celularity. Mark Breidenbach, an analyst with Oppenheimer, said in a note to investors, “We expect the agreement with Celularity to catalyze development of new cell therapies for cancer. Celularity owns broad IP and technical know-how surrounding placental-derived cell therapies; introducing Sorrento’s anti-CD38 targeting capabilities could spawn several off-the-shelf, allogeneic products.”
Henry Ji, president and chief executive officer of Sorrento, said in a statement, “We are very excited to participate in the creation of Celularity together with Dr. Hariri and his scientific team as well as global leading biopharmaceutical companies, such as Celgene, Human Longevity Inc., and United Therapeutics. The potential for regenerative therapies in treating a wide array of chronic degenerative conditions is well known. We see important synergies for the oncology field and the potential to enhance our fight against malignant cancer. Cellularity’s technologies, assets, and resources will help advance selected Sorrento cellular therapy programs and potentially transform autologous cellular therapies into affordable and accessible allogeneic cell therapies.”