Philadephia-based Century Therapeutics reports to be harnessing the power of adult stem cells to develop curative cell therapy products for cancer that overcome the limitations of first-generation cell therapies. Their genetically engineered, iPSC-derived iNK and iT cell products are said to be designed to specifically target hematologic and solid tumor cancers.
Today, Century Therapeutics announced the closing of a $160 million Series C financing. The financing was led by Casdin Capital https://casdincapital.com and brought together a syndicate of respected healthcare investors including Fidelity Management & Research LLC, the Federated Hermes Kauffmann Funds, RA Capital, Logos Capital, OrbiMed, Marshall Wace, Qatar Investment Authority, Avidity Partners, and Octagon Capital. Founding investors Versant Ventures and Leaps by Bayer also participated. Funds raised will help advance Century’s pre-clinical pipeline, which includes multiple iPSC-derived CAR-iT and CAR-iNK cell products. These products are designed to resist host rejection, enhance cell persistence, and allow repeat dosing to provide durable responses in all patients. The team anticipates beginning clinical testing of its first products in 2022, as well as generating multiple INDs annually in the coming years.
“We are fortunate to be surrounded by such a top-tier group of investors, whose support will enable the acceleration of Century’s technology platform into the clinic. With this new investor partnership, we are well-positioned to capitalize on the tremendous potential of our integrated iPSC, cell engineering and manufacturing capabilities to develop safer, more effective and more affordable next generation allogeneic cancer therapies.” Lalo Flores, Chief Executive Officer, Century Therapeutics.
Eli Casdin, Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Casdin Capital will be joining the Century Therapeutics Board of Directors.
“It’s a remarkable and transformative time in the field, with the ability to engineer cells for therapeutic impact now a commercial reality. At the same time, iPSC technology has matured and is now leading the transition from bespoke autologous products to off-the-shelf allogeneic ones. We could not be more excited to partner with the expert team at Century Therapeutics and do our part to help them leverage and accelerate their deep technical expertise in cellular reprogramming, differentiation, genetic engineering and manufacturing to deliver on this next phase of cellular therapy.” Eli Casdin CIO of Casdin Capital
Based on our recent success in investing in NKCell firm Fate Therapeutics (FATE) ($88.49, mkt cap $8.03B) over the last three plus years, Vista Partners along with a group of investors made an investment at the end of 2020 into a firm called Cytovia Therapeutics. Cytovia is developing allogeneic “off-the-shelf” gene-edited Natural Killer (NK) and Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR)-NK cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Cytovia aims to accelerate patient access to transformational cell therapies and immunotherapies, addressing several of the most challenging unmet medical needs in cancer. Cytovia focuses on Natural Killer (NK) cell biology and applies precision engineering to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to develop the safest, most effective, most broadly-available Natural Killer cell therapy as a first line of defense against cancer. Cytovia’s proprietary multi-specific antibody platform has been customized to engage and activate Natural Killer Cells (NK Cells) at the tumor site. Both platforms offer optionality to clinicians and can also be used synergistically. Cytovia’s R&D laboratories and GMP manufacturing facility are augmented by scientific partnerships with Cellectis (CLLS), CytoImmune, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, INSERM, the New York Stem Cell Foundation, STC Biologics, and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).
On Feb. 16, Cytovia Therapeutics & Cellectis (Nasdaq: CLLS, $20.14) a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing immunotherapies based on gene-edited allogeneic CAR T-cells (UCART), jointly announced that they had entered into a strategic research and development collaboration to develop TALEN® gene-edited iPSC NK and CAR-NK cells. The financial terms of the partnership include up to $760 million of development, regulatory, and sales milestones from Cytovia to Cellectis for the first 5 TALEN® gene-edited iPSC-derived NK products (“partnership products”). Cellectis will also receive single-digit royalty payments on the net sales of all partnered products commercialized by Cytovia. Cellectis will receive an equity stake of $15 million in Cytovia stock or an upfront cash payment of $15 million if certain conditions are not met by December 31, 2021, as well as an option to invest in future financing rounds.
“We are excited to collaborate with Cellectis, a gene-editing pioneer and leader in the development of gene-edited allogeneic cancer therapies, to further accelerate Cytovia’s NK cell programs. Cellectis has a deep understanding and proven expertise in gene-edited cell therapies, and their gene editing technology, TALEN®, will yield NK and CAR-NK treatments with improved potency, persistence, and safety for a variety of cancers, including solid tumors. We look forward to leveraging Cellectis’ insights and experience to help move Cytovia’s CAR-NKs into clinical trials by 2022” stated Dr. Daniel Teper, Chairman & CEO of Cytovia Therapeutics.
Cellectis will develop custom TALEN®, which Cytovia will use to edit iPSCs. Cytovia will be responsible for the differentiation and expansion of the gene-edited iPSC master cell bank into NK cells and will conduct the pre-clinical evaluation, clinical development, and commercialization of the mutually-agreed-upon selected therapeutic candidates. Cellectis is granting Cytovia a worldwide license to its TALEN® gene-editing technology, enabling Cytovia to modify NK cells addressing multiple gene targets for therapeutic use in several cancer indications.