Novartis-backed ImmPACT Bio snags $111M and new CEO as cancer CAR-T yields phase 1 results

Looking to make an impact on the cancer CAR-T cell therapy market, Novartis-backed ImmPACT Bio now has $111 million to advance its pipeline and an ex-Baxter and Pfizer leader to steer the ship. 

Alongside the series B and leadership shuffle, the California biotech also said its CD19-CD20 bispecific CAR-T led to complete remission in seven of eight patients treated with 12 months median follow-up. ImmPACT tested the therapy in B-cell, non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients who hadn't responded to other treatments or had relapsed. 

Bristol Myers Squibb snagged an FDA nod for its CAR-T drug Breyanzi for large B-cell lymphoma last year. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is also the target of an Allogene CAR-T, which was held up by the FDA over safety scares last year but was allowed to resume clinical development earlier this month. 

The bispecific is ImmPACT Bio's only asset in the clinic. With the series B, the startup will bring forward a dual CAR and bispecific CAR for lung cancer and glioblastoma, respectively.

RELATED: Bristol Myers Squibb's CAR-T liso-cel wins long-delayed FDA nod

VenBio led the round, with Foresite Capital and Decheng Capital serving as co-leads. OrbiMed, Novartis's venture arm, RM Global Partners and Bukwang Pharmaceutical contributed. ImmPACT previously raised $18 million from Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Takeda Ventures and others in August 2020. 

Now at the helm of the five-year-old biotech is ex-Baxter Global Pharmaceuticals President Sumant Ramachandra, M.D., Ph.D. Before joining Baxter in June 2017, he was senior vice president and head of R&D for Pfizer's Essential Health unit. 

Ramachandra replaces Rick Kendall, Ph.D., who will move to chief scientific officer. The biotech also shuffled board chairs from OrbiMed partner Erez Chimovits to Sheila Gujrathi, M.D., the ex-Gossamer Bio CEO and current chair of ADARx Pharmaceuticals and Ventyx Biosciences.