Woodford pours another $40M into Northwest Bio and its brain cancer vaccine

Neil Woodford

High-profile U.K. investor Neil Woodford is putting more chips on the controversial Northwest Biotherapeutics ($NWBO), betting another $40 million on the company as it works through Phase III with a cancer vaccine.

The investment, placed through Woodford Investment Management, will buy Woodford's group 5.4 million shares of Northwest Bio in two closings: $11.5 million by April 8 and $28.5 million more by April 30. The deal involves no warrants or other stock rights, the parties said, an affirmation of Woodford's faith in the company's work.

Headquartered in Bethesda, MD, Northwest Bio is at work on cancer vaccines that use dendritic cells to galvanize an immune response. The company's lead candidate, DCVax-L, is in the midst of a 348-patient Phase III trial in brain cancer, and CEO Linda Powers has heralded it as a blockbuster in the making, making cheerleading public statements that have drawn the ire of critics who believe the vaccine may turn out to be more hype than hope.

But Woodford is a steadfast supporter, and the latest investment comes on the heels of a $25 million stock purchase closed last year. With the cash, Northwest Bio plans to invest in its growing pipeline, Powers said, blueprinting studies in prostate and ovarian cancers.

"We are very pleased to receive a further major investment from Neil Woodford as a cornerstone of NW Bio's financing plans, keeping NW Bio at the forefront of the immuno-oncology space," Powers said in a statement.

- read the statement