WindMIL Therapeutics Raises $32.53 Million
WindMIL Therapeutics, based in Baltimore, Maryland, filed a form D with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, indicating it had raised $32.53 million in equity financing. The Series B round was led by QiMing USA Venture Partners, the new U.S. entity of China company QMing. There was a Series A round worth $11 million.
WindMIL focuses on methods of extracting, activating and expanding bone marrow derived T-cells to be used in immunotherapies of cancer. Its process is called Marrow Infiltrating Lymphocytes or MILs. Derived from bone marrow, a natural reservoir for memory T cells, MILs are uniquely applicable for autologous cell therapy. The company’s lead program is in a Phase IIb clinical trial in high-risk multiple myeloma. It has additional programs in solid tumors using MILs.
The company’s founder is Kimberly Noonan, who is also its chief scientific officer. She is also adjunct faculty at Johns Hopkins U niversity, where she joined the faculty in 2004.
Brian Halak is WindMIL’s president and chief executive officer. He helped the company’s scientific founders, Noonan and Ivan Borrello, in creating the company. He is a partner at Domain Associates, where he has been since 2001.
Janice Phillips is Head, Technical Operations. Prior to joining WindMIL, she was vice president, product development for the biosimilars group at Dr. Reddy's Laboratories. She has also held positions at Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, Tengon, and Centocor/J&J.
Ivan Borrello, scientific co-founder, is the senior clinical advisor, and chief medical officer. He is an associate professor at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in the divisions of Tumor Immunology and Hematologic Malignancies.
Gregory Lumpkin is the vice president, Finance. The founder of GML & Associates, he has served as the interim chief financial officer for several startup biotech companies, including Tarsa Therapeutics, Cortria Corporation, Tobira Therapeutics, and sGC Pharma.
WindMIL Therapeutics currently has 12 employees, and is located in Hopkins’ FastForward incubator and laboratory space in East Baltimore. The funding will help the company move into clinical trials with solid tumors. It also plans to continue developing genetically-modiffied MILs for use as CAR-T cells.
“We’ve been doing preclinical work over the last couple years, so we’re ready and excited to move forward in these areas,” Halak told the Baltimore Business Journal. “There are a lot of cell therapy companies out there, but [MILs} is really a new class of cell therapy, and we want to expand the areas in which MILs are being explored and used.”
The company indicates on its website that “The specificity inherent in the native TCRs of the T cells that for MILs eliminates the need for genetic modification entirely. This freedom has proven both to lower manufacturing cost and lower toxicity. It also eliminates the need to pre-identify a tumor-specific antigen, something that has proven difficult in solid tumors in particular.”
If WindMIL’s technology proves out, it could upend the immuno-oncology space. The majority of immuno-oncology approaches require that physicians take samples of the patients’ tumor, blood or bone marrow, send it to the company, which then isolates the T-cells, engineers them to specifically respond to the patient’s cancer cells, then ship them back to the doctor, who re-infuses them into the patient. This makes for a uniquely engineered immunotherapeutic, but it is also time-consuming and expensive. WindMIL’s approach would seem to be more of an “off-the-shelf” approach than what is currently being used in healthcare.