Cutting-edge research centers back Deerfield's $550M biotech venture fund

Deerfield's James Flynn

Some of the world's top research institutions are backing a new, $550 million biotech venture fund from Deerfield Management.

The investment outfit reported today that it raised the money from the likes of Memorial Sloan Kettering, Seattle Children's and Princeton University to back new drugs related to genetic diseases, cancer and orphan diseases. And there will be an added focus on new drug development tech as well as healthcare delivery.

Other investors included New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Northwestern University.

It's no coincidence that Memorial Sloan Kettering has played a leading role in the discovery and early development of CAR-T drugs, which use chimeric antigen receptors to reengineer T cells into cancer cell attack weapons. This new fund clearly plans to pick up on that theme, advancing new breakthroughs that promise to continue to promise big advances in their fields. And given their close financial ties to these institutions, Deerfield may well have an edge in getting ahold of some of the most promising new developments.

James Flynn, president and managing partner of Deerfield, characterized the move as a response to the federal government's stagnant support for academic research work.

"The unprecedented advances in our understanding of the biology of disease combined with the application of new technologies allow for life-altering changes in medical practice," Flynn said in a statement. "The pullback in funding that has occurred for these innovations over the last decade could not have happened at a worse time."

Flynn says that Deerfield is contributing its share of the profits to the nonprofit Deerfield Partnership Foundation to "support its charitable purposes to improve the provision of healthcare services to underserved children and investment in healthcare research, including orphan diseases, age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, and other therapeutic, diagnostic and healthcare service delivery breakthroughs."

- here's the release

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