Nutcracker snags $167M series C to develop 'push-button' RNA manufacturing, signs on former Gilead CFO

Nutcracker Therapeutics wants to create mRNA medicines with the push of a button, a tough nut to crack that is now backed by Arch Venture Partners and others with a $167 million series C. 

The Emeryville, California, biotech will use the proceeds to test its messenger RNA medicines in various cancers and build out its RNA manufacturing platform. The "GMP-in-a-box" manufacturing system uses "semiconductor-like biochips" and nanoparticle delivery, the company said in its Monday series C announcement.

The "push-button" manufacturing is meant to speed up and scale the creation of RNA therapeutics, the four-year-old biotech has propositioned. Nutcracker says the platform can be used across the discovery, clinical and commercialization stages of RNA drug creation.

Along with the financing, which is more than double its 2020 series B, Nutcracker added former Gilead Sciences Chief Financial Officer Michael Bigham to its board. He's executive chair of Paratek Pharmaceuticals, which makes the antibiotic Nuzyra, and an executive partner at Abingworth Management. 

Nutcracker previously disclosed a $60 million series B in September 2020 and about $14 million prior to that, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Aside from Arch, Nutcracker's other backers include Bluebird Ventures and Altitude Life Science Ventures.

Leading Nutcracker's work on mRNA medicines for cancers is an experienced oncology drug developer. Vice President Swami Murugappan, M.D., Ph.D., previously worked on getting the first FDA approval for Tecartus, a mantle cell lymphoma CAR-T therapy from Gilead's Kite Pharma, in July 2020 as product lead.