World's Richest Doctor's Startup NantCell Rakes in Another $57 Million

World's Richest Doctor's Startup NantCell Rakes in Another $57 Million
January 25, 2016
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

NantCell one of Patrick Soon-Shiong’s biopharma companies under his NantWorks umbrella, filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, indicating that it had raised an additional $57 million from 125 investors.

On June 4, 2015, Soon-Shiong, often dubbed the “world’s richest doctor,” announced that NantCell had raised $75 million for the startup, which is apparently focused on immuno-oncology research. NantCell has no website and is often reported as not responding to media inquiries, including several requests over the last several months by BioSpace .

Although not much is known about specifics regarding the company’s approach, it has inked several significant partnership deals. Shortly after its launch in January 2015, it signed a deal with Amgen to develop and commercialize the pancreatic cancer drug ganitumab (AMG 47), which had been in Phase III trials. The drug had been abandoned by Amgen in 2012.

“It is our belief that the future of cancer care will involve combination therapy with low dose, metronomic use of multiple chemotherapeutic agents,” said Soon-Shiong in a statement at the time, “but combined also with immuno-oncology molecules, or with engineered killer cells targeted at the proteomic profiles of the specific tumor, regardless of the anatomical type.”

In May of 2015, NantWorks acquired the subsidiary of Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. for more than $1.3 billion, picking up a promising cancer drug, Cynviloq, in the process.

Most recently, Soon-Shiong organized a coalition of companies, academics, payers and oncologists to launch The National Immunotherapy Coalition (NIC) and The Cancer MoonShot 2020. The focus of both is to develop and test combination therapies for various forms of cancers.

Soon-Shiong’s NantWorks and NantKwest are part of the coalition, as well as Celgene , Amgen , Merck KgaA , and others. Etubics, Altor BioScience, Precision Biologics, designated National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer centers, and community oncologists will be part of the NIC. Also, the NIC will collaborate with Independence Blue Cross and Bank of America .

Independence Blue Cross and Bank of America’s role is to cover patient costs for the clinical trials. NantHealth will also perform the genomic sequencing, which will be funded by the two financial entities.

“The insurance coverage of whole genome transcriptomic tests in patients receiving immunotherapy by Independence Blue Cross is a landmark milestone in moving precision medicine in oncology from the bench to the bedside,” said Soon-Shiong in a January statement. “Independence Blue Cross has taken the visionary lead to cover next generation sequencing. We are in discussions with the rest of the insurance industry, including Blue Cross on a national basis to encourage the industry to follow Independence’s lead.”

The coalition will have potential access to over 60 novel and approved cancer drugs. The NIC plans to design, initiate and finish randomized clinical trials in up to 20 tumor types in cancers of all stages in 20,000 patients by the year 2020, which is the basic mission of The Cancer MoonShot 2020.

“There are unique times in history when events and advancements in technology converge to elicit a quantum leap in medical care,” Soon-Shiong said in a January statement. “This is not only a unique time, but also a unique inflection point in the history of cancer. The era of immunotherapy has taken the oncology world by storm. For the first time in 40 years, there is a glimmer that we may be able to win this war against cancer.”

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