Innovations Invests in £17 Million Funding Round for Portfolio Company, Cell Medica
News Jul 24, 2012
Imperial Innovations Group plc has invested in a £17 million funding round in portfolio company Cell Medica, a clinical stage cell therapeutics business, enabling it to continue development of its immune reconstitution cell therapies in Europe and to launch new operations in Texas, US, focussing on cancer immunotherapy.
Invesco Perpetual and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) also participated in the round.
Cell Medica’s technology is based on the selection, activation and expansion of immune cells, specifically T-cells, which can prevent and treat a range of diseases.
Its Cytovir™ product family treats life-threatening viral infections in leukaemia and lymphoma patients who have undergone bone marrow transplants.
These patients have severely compromised immune systems, putting them at significant risk of infection from common viruses.
Cell Medica’s Cytovir™ therapies involve the reconstitution of natural cell-mediated immunity, which represents a unique benefit which cannot be matched by existing antiviral drugs.
The European market launch of Cytovir™ CMV for cytomegalovirus infections is targeted for 2013 following completion of two randomized controlled studies on-going in the UK.
The investment from CPRIT will fund the clinical development in the US of Cell Medica’s novel Cytorex™ EBV therapy which treats cancers associated with the Epstein Barr Virus.
Innovations and Invesco Perpetual committed £3 million and £4 million respectively, subject to milestones. CPRIT, a body founded in 2007 to fund cancer research and prevention programmes and services in Texas, committed the balance of £9.7 million.
Following the first investment tranche, Innovations will hold a 28% stake in the business. The Wellcome Trust will also become a shareholder in the business through elected conversion of a loan security into equity.
Cell Medica has also appointed Thomas Hecht as Chairman. A former transplant physician, Thomas was vice president of marketing at Amgen Europe until 2002, and since then has been Chairman of a number of boards including Delenex and Cytos Biotechnology AG. Maina Bhaman, Innovations Director of Healthcare Investments sits on the board of the Company.
Susan Searle, CEO of Imperial Innovations, said: “Cell Medica’s innovative cell therapies have the potential to significantly improve outcomes for a group of patients who are currently clinically under served.
“We are pleased that one of our early stage investments is now able to develop and scale into a multinational business. This follow-on funding will allow Cell Medica to grow and exploit opportunities in both the US and European markets.”
Gregg Sando, CEO of Cell Medica, said: “We have brought together a very special group of investors who are supporting an expert team and well considered plan to realize the significant potential of patient-specific cell therapeutics. We will be expanding our management team both in the US and Europe to deliver on current programmes and secure a leadership position in cell therapeutics for cancer and infectious diseases.”
A new study has identified a drug that potentially could make a common type of immunotherapy for cancer even more effective. The study in laboratory mice found that the drug dasatinib, which is FDA-approved to treat certain types of leukemia, greatly enhances responses to a form of immunotherapy that is used against a wide range of other cancers.
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