Blackstone Commits $250 Million to Help Autolus Vanquish Leukemia

Blackstone_Roman Tirapolsky_Compressed

Roman Tirapolsky/Shutterstock

Autolus Therapeutics is getting as much as $250 million in funding after signing a collaboration deal with Blackstone Life Sciences to support its cancer treatment research.

Autolus is currently working on advancing obecabtagene autoleucel (obe-cel), its CD19 CAR T cell investigational therapy product candidate, in addition to other applications of obe-cel in B-cell malignancies. 

Obe-cell is designed to have a fast target binding off-rate to reduce the over-activation of programmed T cells. It may reduce toxicity and be less prone to T cell exhaustion, improving programmed T cells' ability to target cancer cells. 

At present, Obe-cel is being evaluated in a Phase IB/2 clinical trial for its overall response rate, duration of response, MRD negative CR rate, and safety in the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in adults, also known as the FELIX clinical trial.

Blackstone is committed to providing $150 million in product financing support for the development and commercialization of obe-cel, $50 million of which will be payable when the transaction closes. The rest will be paid based on development and regulatory milestones hit. The company is also buying $100 million worth of American Depositary Shares (ADS) in Autolus via a private placement, earning it the right to nominate a member to Autolus' board. 

"We welcome Blackstone Life Sciences to join our drive to change the outlook for leukemia and lymphoma patients, notably those with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Blackstone’s investment and expertise will support the development and preparation for commercialization of obe-cel and put the program and the Company on a strong financial footing as we are approaching the read-out from the potentially pivotal FELIX clinical trial during the course of 2022," commented Dr. Christian Itin, the chief executive officer of Autolus, in a statement. 

The investment comes at an opportune time for Autolus, which recently announced that it is setting up a manufacturing facility in Stevenage, U.K., including a 70,000-square-foot building. The site is intended to help shore up plans to commercialize obe-cel on a global scale soon. 

"Autolus is a world-class company with an innovative platform and the potential to deliver best-in-class, lifesaving treatments to patients suffering from cancer. Our investment in these next generation cell therapies exemplify our conviction in the quality and promise of the life sciences sector in the UK," said Dr. Nicholas Galakatos, the global head of Blackstone Life Sciences. 

Blackstone has been actively investing in U.K. companies over the past 10 years and has poured over $18 billion across 44 investments in the country. These ventures have led to more than 27,000 jobs, making it the largest foreign investor in the U.K. to date.

Back to news