The Bay Area's Secretive Adicet Bio Raises $51 Million and Buys Israel-based Applied Immune Technologies

The Bay Area's Secretive Adicet Bio Raises $51 Million and Buys Israel-based Applied Immune Technologies
January 27, 2016
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Menlo Park, Calif.-based Adicet Bio, Inc. announced today that it had closed on a $51 million Series A financing round. The financing was led by OrbiMed and joined by Novartis Venture Fund and Pontifax.

In addition, Adicet announced it had acquired Israeli company Applied Immune Technologies, Ltd (AIT). AIT focuses on generating and developing T-cell Receptor-Like (TCRL) antibodies. It also has a proprietary technology platform, Epitarget, that identifies and validates novel disease-specific peptide targets. Though now owned by Adicet, it will continue to operate in Israel as Adicet’s wholly-owned subsidiary.

“These significant financial resources will allow Adicet to progress its universal immune cell therapy (ulCT) platform technology and related products and advance AIT’s programs and product pipelines,” said Aya Jakobovits, founder, president and chief executive officer of Adicet, in a statement. “AIT’s technologies, capabilities, and intellectual property highly complement those of Adicet and position the combined company to become a leader in next-generation immunotherapy products for cancer and other indications.”

Aya Jakobovits is the former founder and chief executive of Kite Pharma . She is currently a venture partner at OrbiMed. Prior to joining Kite Pharma, Jakobovits was executive vice president, head of research and development at Agensys, which was acquired by Astellas Pharma Inc. for about $537 million.

One of the areas that Jakobovits is known for is the development of the XenoMouse, a genetically engineered mouse that produces human antibodies that can be utilized as drugs in humans. Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Amgen acquired the technology and the company she was working for, Abgenix, for $2.2 billion in 2005.

Not much is known about the ulCT platform. The company’s focus is designing and developing immunotherapies for cancer, as well as other disease indications. The company was founded in 2014. In December, the company indicated it was moving its headquarters and planned to hire 36 more people over the next five years.

Currently the company has eight employees, but may have up to 30 by the end of this year.

The name for the technology, “universal immune cell therapy” suggests that the company is attempting to find a way to program the immune system to attack all cancer cells, as opposed to specific cancer type cells. Xconomy today wrote that the company wants to “make ‘off the shelf’ products, more like conventional drugs that are produced en masse.”

To date, no allogeneic cell immunotherapy has made it to clinical trials. The French company Cellectis utilized its version, UCART19, to treat a baby with leukemia by way of a special request from her parents. The child’s cancer was in remission at the end of last year and that therapeutic is scheduled for clinical trials sometime this year.

UCART19 is an allogeneic TALEN gene edited T-cell product that is being investigated to treat CD19 expressing hematological malignancies. It was initially developed to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). On Nov. 18, 2015, Servier exercised a worldwide option to license UCART19 and entered into a collaboration deal with Pfizer.

To date, Adicet Bio has raised a total of $65.63 million in two rounds from three investors. No information was released regarding how much Adicet paid for AIT.

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