Magenta gains $50M Series B, Novartis candidate and new partnership

It was only six months ago, in a unique matchup, that venture capital firms Atlas and Third Rock came together in a $48.5 million Series A to create and launch Magenta Therapeutics; now, the upstart has added more cash, a new drug and a key collab for its Series B as it looks to waste no time boosting its clinical work.

This time round, the Series B $50 million fund was led by Google’s venture arm GV, with all of its founding investors also taking part. The money men have bought into the idea of “resetting and refreshing the immune system,” as the biotech plans to work hand-in-hand with the latest in stem cell science to reboot the immune system for cancer, autoimmune diseases, and genetic blood disorders.

To help it to this end, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup has also announced two new deals: The first, with Swiss major Novartis, sees it in-license MGTA-456, a clinical candidate designed for stem cell transplant.

The drug (formerly HSC835), aims to expand the number of cord blood stem cells used in transplants to “achieve superior clinical outcomes compared to standard transplant procedures, and to enable more patients to benefit from a transplant,” according to the company. 

Under the deal, Magenta gets rights to use MGTA-456 in “selected applications” and will develop the experimental early-stage therapy in a number of diseases, including immune and blood disorders.

Some early data, first published in the Science journal, showed the med could boost the number of umbilical cord blood stem cells, while further data, posted in Cell Stem Cell, then showed that this yielded an increased expansion of stem cells.

And a second deal has been struck with Be The Match BioTherapies (BTMB), an org working on delivering autologous and allogeneic cellular therapies, which has also made an equity investment in Magenta – the first in its history.

Under this pact, Magenta can use BTMBs’ cell therapy delivery platform, industry relationships, clinical trial design and management, and patient outcomes data.

These deals also build on the license agreement the company has with Harvard University that, a deal that sees Magenta get its hands on the latest stem cell tech being developed at the site.

Former GSK exec Jason Gardner, D. Phil., CEO, president and co-founder of Magenta, said: “We aspire to accelerate products that could unleash the potential of transplantation to more patients, including those with autoimmune diseases, genetic blood disorders, and cancer. The resounding interest in Magenta from such a high-quality set of investors is a testament to our solid progress since launch, including building a world-class team and a robust pipeline, and generating promising early data.”

The upstart’s ultimate goal is to create a new set of therapeutics via a first complete platform that addresses the current challenges inherent in stem cell transplants.

It aims to do this by improving three key aspects of the procedure: patient preparation using targeted antibodies; stem cell harvesting using new biologic agents; and increasing stem cell numbers by targeting self-renewal pathways.