A startup company developing in vivo and ex vivo cell therapies has raised a significant chunk of funding for its initial financing from life science and technology venture capital as well as pension plans and others.
Seattle-based Sana Biotechnology said Tuesday that it had raised more than $700 million from a wide range of investors, including ARCH Venture Partners, Flagship Pioneering, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Baillie Gifford, F-Prime Capital, the Alaska Permanent Fund, the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, Bezos Expeditions, GV, Omega Funds, Altitude Life Science Investors and several others that were not named publicly.
The company is developing cell as well as gene therapies and plans to use the money it has raised on its discovery and development efforts. It announced its launch in January of last year, with the stated goal of developing means of in vivo delivery of DNA, RNA and proteins to reprogram specific cells, as well as making cells at scale ex vivo in order to replace damaged or missing cells in the body. Other capabilities Sana is developing include ways to hide allogeneic cells from the immune system in order to prevent their elimination or rejection. While the currently approved CAR-T cell therapies are autologous, relying on patients’ own cells, allogeneic cell therapies use cells from donors.
One of Sana’s cofounders is Hans Bishop, who himself founded Juno Therapeutics in 2013 and serves as executive chairman of Sana. Juno was acquired by Celgene in January 2018, and Bristol-Myers subsequently acquired Celgene a year later. One of the CAR-T cell therapies Juno developed, lisocabtagene maraleucel, is under Food and Drug Administration review for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, while the company’s CAR-T for multiple myeloma, orvacabtagene autoleucel, was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting last month.
“Sana is dedicated to modulating genes in cells as well as replacing damaged cells in the body,” Sana CEO Steve Harr said in a statement. “The commitment from this group of long-term investors enables us to concentrate on making discoveries that overcome the most important challenges to making gene and cell therapies that improve the lives of a broad swath of patients.”
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