Cell Medica, a London-based cell therapeutics company, has secured a $26.5 million equity investment to launch new operations in Texas focusing on cancer immunotherapy and to continue development of its immune reconstitution cell therapies in Europe.
The financing includes new investments from Invesco Perpetual and Imperial Innovations alongside a previously announced Commercialization (Relocation) Award from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). Contemporaneous with the financing, the Wellcome Trust will become a shareholder in Cell Medica through conversion of a loan security into equity.<
The equity capital will finance a significant build-up of Cell Medica's operations in both the U.S. and Europe. As part of this strategy, existing director Dr. Thomas Hecht will assume the chairman's role while the current chairman, Nigel Burns, will carry on as a non-executive director. Hecht brings significant experience to the role of chairman through his involvement in other early stage biotech companies and his previous role as a senior executive in Amgen's European operations.
"The launch of our U.S. cancer immunotherapy operations represents a key step in the execution of Cell Medica's business plan and we are very fortunate to have CPRIT as a core investor supporting the operations being set up in Texas,” said Gregg Sando, CEO and founder of Cell Medica. “We will be expanding our management team both in the U.S. and Europe to deliver on our current product programs and to secure a leadership position in cell therapeutics for cancer and infectious diseases."
The CPRIT investment, previously announced at $15.3 million, will fund the Texas-based clinical development of a promising cancer immunotherapy technology (Cytorex EBV) which the Cell Medica has licensed from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, The Methodist Hospital and Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, Texas. Cytorex EBV represents a novel approach to treating cancers associated with the oncogenic Epstein Barr Virus (EBV). To execute the U.S. cancer immunotherapy plan, Cell Medica will establish commercial operations in Texas and relocate a substantial part of its headquarters to the Texas-based company.
In Europe, the additional investment will finance Cell Medica's commercialization program focusing on its immune reconstitution products including Cytovir CMV and Cytovir ADV. Comprised of specific immune cells referred to as T cells, the Cytovir product family prevents viral infections by reconstituting natural cell-mediated immunity in patients who are profoundly immuno-suppressed after bone marrow transplantation. Treating viral infections through immune reconstitution represents a unique benefit of the Cytovir cell therapy approach which cannot be matched by antiviral drugs. The market launch of Cytovir CMV is targeted for 2013 following completion of the first of two company-sponsored randomized controlled trials ongoing in the UK. The Cytovir ADV clinical development program will be initiated with a phase I/II trial later in 2012.