|NantHealth founder Patrick Soon-Shiong|
Billionaire entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong has raised $100 million for one of the many offshoots of his NantWorks conglomerate, working to duplicate the success of the targeted cancer drug that helped build his empire.
The funds will benefit NantBioScience, a subsidiary founded in 2013 to develop oncology treatments with the same nanoparticle technology that birthed Abraxane, a cancer blockbuster Soon-Shiong sold to Celgene ($CELG) in a $3 billion deal. NantWorks hasn't disclosed any details on its latest fundraise, first spotted by MedCity News, and the company didn't respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Soon-Shiong unveiled NantBioScience early last year, inking a deal with his old friends at Celgene under which the pair would collaborate on nanoparticle albumin-bound drugs, using the platform that birthed Abraxane. Celgene invested $75 million in the company, betting NantBioScience could leverage Soon-Shiong's Big Data oncology platform, NantHealth, to find the ideal patients for its candidates and accelerate clinical development. Under the deal, Celgene has the option to license any of NantBioScience's projects after Phase I.
NantBioScience is an arm of Soon-Shiong's sprawling approach to biotech, including the recently launched NantCell, an immuno-oncology-focused venture working with Sorrento Therapeutics ($SRNE); and NantOmics, a molecular diagnostics operation. Soon-Shiong's overarching goal is to unite cloud computing, genomic analysis and targeted drug development to create an end-to-end oncology system that can eventually manage a patient's cancer much like the industry currently handles chronic disease.
Underpinning Soon-Shiong's expansive vision is NantHealth, which he calls "the Google of genome mapping." But a pair of former employees have alleged that Soon-Shiong's empire is founded more on savvy marketing than actual innovation, claiming in a lawsuit that NantHealth has repeatedly violated federal regulations, endangered patient privacy and misled the public about what its technology can do. For its part, the company has said the lawsuit is "baseless" and "filled with inaccuracies and false statements," dismissing the plaintiffs as disgruntled ex-employees out to smear NantHealth.
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