Cell Medica has announced that it has secured a £17 million ($26.5 million) equity investment to launch new operations in Texas focussing on cancer immunotherapy and to continue development of its immune reconstitution cell therapies in Europe.
The financing includes new investment from Invesco Perpetual and Imperial Innovations alongside a previously announced Commercialization (Relocation) Award from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).
Contemporaneous with the financing, the Wellcome Trust will become a shareholder in the Company through conversion of a loan security into equity.
The equity capital will finance a significant build-up of the Company’s operations in both the United States and Europe.
As part of this strategy, existing director Dr. Thomas Hecht will assume the Chairman’s role while the current Chairman Nigel Burns will carry on as a non-executive Director.
Dr. Hecht brings significant experience to the role of Chairman through his involvement in other early stage biotech companies and his previous role as a senior executive in Amgen’s European Operations.
The CPRIT investment, previously announced at $15.3 million, will fund the Texas-based clinical development of a promising cancer immunotherapy technology (Cytorex™ EBV) which the Company has licensed from the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, The Methodist Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas (BCM CAGT).
Cytorex EBV represents a novel approach to treating cancers associated with the oncogenic Epstein Barr Virus (EBV). To execute the US cancer immunotherapy plan, Cell Medica will establish commercial operations in Texas and relocate a substantial part of its headquarters to the Texas-based company.
In Europe, the additional investment will finance Cell Medica’s commercialization programme focussing on its immune reconstitution products including Cytovir™ CMV and Cytovir ADV.
Comprised of specific immune cells referred to as T cells, the Cytovir product family prevents viral infections by reconstituting natural cell-mediated immunity in patients who are profoundly immunosuppressed after bone marrow transplantation.
Treating viral infections through immune reconstitution represents a unique benefit of the Cytovir cell therapy approach which cannot be matched by antiviral drugs.
The market launch of Cytovir CMV is targeted for 2013 following completion of the first of two Company-sponsored randomized controlled trials ongoing in the UK. The Cytovir ADV clinical development programme will be initiated with a Phase I/II trial later in 2012.
Dr. Thomas Hecht, newly-appointed Chairman said, “I am very pleased to take on the role of Chairman as Cell Medica enters this very exciting phase of international growth and development. We have brought together a very special group of investors who are supporting an expert team and well considered plan to realize the significant clinical potential of patient-specific cell therapeutics.”
Gregg Sando, CEO and Founder of Cell Medica, said, “The launch of our US cancer immunotherapy operations represents a key step in the execution of Cell Medica’s business plan and we are very fortunate to have CPRIT as a core investor supporting the operations being set up in Texas. We will be expanding our management team both in the US and Europe to deliver on our current product programmes and to secure a leadership position in cell therapeutics for cancer and infectious diseases.”