5. Allogene Therapeutics

Allogene biotech investments
Allogene is working on the next chapter of CAR-T with 17 allogeneic, or off-the-shelf, CAR-T programs licensed from Cellectis, by way of Pfizer. (Eli Richman/FierceBiotech)

Amount: $300 million
Round: Series A
Date: April
Investors: BellCo Capital, Pfizer, TPG, the University of California Office of the Chief Investment Officer and Vida Ventures 

The scoop: It took Allogene only six months to get from launch to IPO, but then again, the CAR-T player wasn’t exactly the typical biotech startup.

Like a few others on this list, the company started life with a suite of ready-made candidates—along with a hefty series A round, in this case, $300 million. Unlike the others, Allogene had former Kite Pharma executives Arie Belldegrun, M.D., and David Chang, M.D., Ph.D., as co-founders.

Now, the company is working on the next chapter of CAR-T with 17 allogeneic, or off-the-shelf, CAR-T programs licensed from Cellectis, by way of Pfizer. They're hoping this type of CAR-T therapy, made with donor T cells instead of a patient’s own cells, can be manufactured more quickly and made available to many more patients. 

At the time of the series A round, all but one of those 17 assets were preclinical. The sole in-clinic candidate, UCART19, was poised to enter phase 2 for CD19-expressing blood cancers.

Since then, Allogene picked up another $120 million in private financing before filing in September to raise $100 million in its IPO—a number it updated to $287 million three weeks later. The company ultimately outraised that by $1 million.

Now it's planning to put its sizable purse to work advancing UCART19, as well as earlier-stage candidates targeting BCMA—another proven CAR-T antigen—and three new targets: FLT3, CD70 and DLL3. It may also use the money to bring in new assets.

And if Allogene can pull it off, the allogeneic approach could “be disruptive to the landscape,” said Eric Schmidt, Ph.D., the longtime Cowen analyst who became Allogene’s chief financial officer.

5. Allogene Therapeutics