The Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year is on a Mission to Cure the Uncurable
Published: Sep 12, 2018
CHANDLER, Ariz.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The Arizona Bioindustry Association (AZBio) today announced that Calimmune, Inc., acquired by CSL Limited in 2017, will be honored as the Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year by the state’s bioscience and business community at the 2018 AZBio Award on Oct. 3 at the Phoenix Convention Center.
On a mission to cure the incurable
When CSL Limited, the world’s 5th largest biotechnology company, acquired Arizona-based Calimmune in August 2017, the global biotechnology leader’s Chief Executive Officer, Paul Perreault, said, “Calimmune’s scientific accomplishments are impressive.”
Those accomplishments included accelerating the promise of gene therapy to liberate patients from chronic and currently incurable diseases.
Calimmune, now fully integrated within CSL, had extensive expertise and more than 200 patents in viral vector and novel delivery technology, and therapeutic product design and manufacturing, which they developed into a potent gene therapy platform with the potential of broad application in a wide variety of indications.
The gene therapy process Calimmune was advancing works by genetically modifying the patient’s own cells to shield and strengthen their immune system or to correct blood cell abnormalities.
The promise of this approach is to create enduring and perhaps life-long protection for individuals living with a broad range of debilitating and currently incurable diseases, such as sickle cell disease.
Before CSL’s Acquisition
Calimmune was founded in 2006 by serial entrepreneur and University of Arizona graduate, Louis Breton, Nobel Laureate David Baltimore, Ph.D. (California Institute of Technology), Irvin Chen, Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles) Inder M. Verma, Ph.D. (Salk Institute for Biological Studies), and biotech veteran Jon Faiz Kayyem, Ph.D. The team advanced lead development programs with novel ex-vivo gene therapies for hematologic diseases and has some of the world’s most respected gene therapy developers, clinicians, scientific advisors and commercialization experts committed to its mission.
Today, for diseases that have no cure, medicines and other therapies work to alleviate symptoms or slow the progression of the disease. The journey to develop actual cures takes vision, ingenuity and persistence. It also requires investment. Along Calimmune’s innovation journey, the earliest investors included the Translational Accelerator Venture Fund (TRAC) led by industry veterans Richard Love, Dan Von Hoff, MD, Eric Tooker, JD, and John Bentley. Investments from individuals within the Desert Angels, including Harry George, continuously supported the company in its early years. As the company progressed, support for ongoing investment rounds included RA Capital Management, a strategic investment from AbbVie, and syndicate members that included Alexandria Ventures, Cycad Ventures, and Numenor Ventures. The company also secured debt financing from angels and Silicon Valley Bank. Calimmune’s research journey was also supported by government grants, including significant funding support from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine.
CSL Focusing on Curing the Incurable
With 22,000 employees driven by the company’s promise to develop and deliver innovative products and programs to people living with rare diseases in the hematology, immunology and specialty therapeutic areas – CSL continues to advance candidates acquired from Calimmune.
"The team has built a robust technology platform and designed a promising hematopoietic gene therapy candidate – CSL 200 – which strongly aligns with our longer-term strategic goals, and complements our core competencies and areas of therapeutic focus,” Perreault said. “We believe that our combined strengths have tremendous potential to change treatment paradigms, and most importantly, significantly improve the lives of our patients."
CSL plans to begin clinical trials next year for CSL200 in sickle cell disease, a disorder caused by a mutation in the hemoglobin gene that causes abnormally shaped red blood cells that obstruct vessels, leading to chronic pain and organ damage secondary to lack of oxygen. The biotech leader’s treatment could potentially help patients by modifying their own stem cells to incorporate a gene able to produce an improved form of hemoglobin.
For its commitment to cure the incurable and its vison, ingenuity and persistent pursuit of new treatments designed to improve the lives of people around the world, Calimmune is the 2018 Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year.
A key component of Arizona Bioscience Week, The AZBio Awards & Life Science Fiesta brings together Arizona’s life science and leadership community with visitors from around the country to celebrate life-science innovation and innovators. The AZBio Awards takes place on the evening of October 3, 2018 at the Phoenix Convention Center. Highlights of the evening will include honoring Dr. Daniel D. Von Hoff with the AZBio Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement and a celebration of the achievements of leading researchers, educators, and innovator companies. The Life Science Fiesta following the award ceremony features a Student Discovery Zone that showcases the work of fifty students from Arizona high schools, community colleges, and universities along with exhibits featuring Arizona companies and patient advocacy organizations. The AZBio Awards & Life Science Fiesta are presented by AZBio and the Arizona Commerce Authority.
The White Hat Life Science Investor Conference (White Hat 2018) brings together the next generation of biotech and healthcare pioneers from across the Rocky Mountain Southwest Region with investors locally, nationally, and internationally. Held at the Phoenix Convention Center on October 4, 2018, White Hat 2018 is a collaboration between the bioscience industry associations across the region. The conference showcases investment opportunities for investment into privately-held companies in the areas of diagnostics, therapeutics, medical devices, and health information technology. Thirty-two companies have been competitively selected by a committee of experienced life science investors to present at White Hat 2018. Companies that presented at White Hat in 2014 and 2016 have gone on to receive almost $200 million in investment from private investors and corporate investors.
For more information on Arizona Bioscience Week, visit www.AZBio.org/AZBW2018.
For more information on the 2018 AZBio Awards, visit www.AZBioAwards.com.
For more information about White Hat 2018, visit www.WhiteHatInvestors.com.
For 15 years, the Arizona Bioindustry Association (AZBio) has supported life science innovation and life science innovators in Arizona. A key component in Arizona’s life science ecosystem, AZBio is the only statewide organization exclusively focused on Arizona’s bioscience industry. AZBio membership includes patient advocacy organizations, life science innovators, educators, healthcare partners and leading business organizations. AZBio is the statewide affiliate of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and works in partnership with AdvaMed, MDMA, and PhRMA to advance innovation and to ensure that the value delivered from life-changing and life-saving innovation benefits people in Arizona and around the world.
CSL (ASX:CSL; USOTC:CSLLY) is a leading global biotechnology company with a dynamic portfolio of life-saving medicines, including those that treat hemophilia and immune deficiencies, as well as vaccines to prevent influenza. Since our start in 1916, we have been driven by our promise to save lives using the latest technologies. Today, CSL – including our two businesses, CSL Behring and Seqirus – provides life-saving products to more than 60 countries and employs more than 22,000 people. Our unique combination of commercial strength, R&D focus and operational excellence enables us to identify, develop and deliver innovations so our patients can live life to the fullest. For inspiring stories about the promise of biotechnology, visit Vita at CSLBehring.com/vita and follow us on Twitter.com/CSL.
AZBio Media Contact:
Joan Koerber-Walker, Arizona Bioindustry Association
Images available upon request.
Source: Arizona Bioindustry Association