Cell Medica raises £60M to push cancer therapies into clinic

Cell Medica has raised £60 million ($74 million) to expand its clinical pipeline of cancer cellular immunotherapies. The latest fundraising round, which was again backed by heavyweights of the British biotech investment scene, will equip Cell Medica to move new assets into the clinic while wrapping up a phase 2 of its lead candidate.

Touchstone Innovations—the company formerly known as Imperial Innovations—participated in the Series C alongside Neil Woodford’s funds and those managed by his former employer, Invesco Perpetual. Those three organizations also drove Cell Medica to a £50 million Series B round late in 2014.

Since then, Cell Medica has begun treating patients with advanced lymphomas associated with the Epstein Barr virus (EBV) with its lead candidate CMD-003—also known as baltaleucel-T—in a phase 2 trial, and expanded its technology base through the acquisition of Delenex Therapeutics and collaborations with Baylor College of Medicine and University College London.

The Series C is intended to enable Cell Medica to build on this platform by diversifying its pipeline.

“With the strong support of our key shareholders, Cell Medica will implement the next phase of our development programme, bringing a new generation of cell-based immunotherapy products into phase 1 clinical trials as well as completing our phase 2 program for baltaleucel-T,” Cell Medica CEO Gregg Sando said in a statement.

Lead candidate CMD-003 is made up of autologous EBV-specific T cells that are extracted from a patient’s blood before being activated and expanded. Cell Medica thinks the approach can treat advanced lymphomas with minimal side effects.

Cell Medica developed CMD-003 with Baylor College of Medicine and it has since returned to the same source in search of other pipeline prospects. Last year, Cell Medica struck and then expanded an agreement with Baylor to apply CAR technology to natural killer T cells. In between forming and expanding the Baylor deal, Cell Medica bought Swiss biotech Delenex. The takeover gave Cell Medica a targeting system for the therapies it had recently begun working on with Baylor