Immuno-oncology specialist Kite adds $50M in new financing

Kite Pharma says it has raised a whopping $50 million from a group of private investors to back its work on new T cell treatments for cancer.

The investment syndicate included a number of U.S. outfits that are first-time investors, said Santa Monica, CA-based Kite, but the biotech isn't revealing anything else about who's putting up the cash. Kite's lead program is for CD19-positive B cell cancers, including diffuse large B cell lymphoma.

A year ago, though, Kite executives told FierceBiotech that Alta Partners had joined the original syndicate of investors that included the notorious financier Michael Milken, Kite founder and Chairman Arie Belldegrun, TPG Group co-founder David Bonderman, Pontifax, and Commercial Street Capital.

Kite Pharma founder and Chairman Arie Belldegrun

The biotech is in one of the industry's R&D sweet spots: immunotherapy. Training the immune system to attack cancers has emerged as one of the hottest fields in R&D, and Kite is training its focus on hematological and solid tumors.

"These commitments will help further accelerate our pipeline programs based on our broadly enabling platform in cancer immunotherapy," said Belldegrun in a statement.

- here's the release