CAR-T funding is on the rise. At first the trend was subtle, but the tide swelled as CAR-T therapies like Kymriah and Yescarta reached the marketplace and created a CAR-T funding craze. CAR-T start-ups have been richly funded by investors eager to get into this trending area of regenerative medicine. IPO raises have also been aggressive.
Following IPOs by CAR-T players Kite Pharma, Bellicum, Juno and Cellectis totaling over $750 million, CAR-T developer Autolus has now announced a $150 million IPO. This brings the total value of recent CAR-T IPO’s to nearly $1 billion.
CAR-T Financing Rounds
In March 7, 2018, JW Therapeutics announced it had closed a $90 million Series A financing round. JW Therapeutics is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company founded by Juno Therapeutics and WuXi AppTec Group in 2016 to focus on leading cell-based therapy technologies.
As stated in the press release, “By combining Juno’s world-class technology and platform with WuXi AppTec Group’s local expertise, R&D and manufacturing platform, and broader partnerships, JW Therapeutics has successfully initiated the development of its first…CAR-T therapy being studied for the treatment of B-cell malignancies initially focusing on relapsed and refractory DCBCL.”
CAR-T specialist Autolus also raised $80 million in a third-round financing, bringing the total financing raised by Autolus to approximately $173 million. Headquartered in London, UK, Autolus is a private biopharmaceutical company specializing in engineered T-cell immunotherapy products with extreme efficacy to address life-threatening cancers.
In other major CAR-T news, Celularity raised $250 million to support development of placental-derived products, including T-cells that will be immune advantaged because of their derivation from the placenta. Celularity is looking to burst a major bottleneck in the industry by deriving T-cells from a single (allogeneic) cell line, potentially positioning itself to slash the price point for CAR-T treatments.
In April 2018, London-based CAR-T start-up Allogene Therapeutics entered into an asset contribution deal with Pfizer, as well as announced a $300 million Series A round.
Shortly thereafter in May 2018, MediSix Therapeutics, a Singapore-based CAR-T start-up company developing therapeutics to target T-cell leukemia and lymphoma, announced the close of a Series A financing worth $20 million. The financing was led by Lightstone Ventures and included Temasek and Osage University Partners.
List of CAR-T Financing Rounds
|JW Therapeutics||Shanghai, China||$90 million|
|Autolus||London, UK||$173 million|
|Celularity||Warren, New Jersey, USA||$250 million|
|Allogene Therapeutics||London, UK||$300 million|
|MediSix Therapeutics||Singapore||$20 million|
Abundant CAR-T Deal-Making
Additionally, CAR-T deal-making appears to be attracting large sums of money. For example, Celgene grabbed Juno Therapeutics for a shocking $9 billion in January 2018 and Gilead Sciences acquired Kite Pharma for an astounding $11.9 billion in August 2017.
More recently, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $350 million to partner with Chinese firm Nanjing Legend Biotech after the company released promising CAR-T data at the ASCO annual meeting. Gilead is also acquiring Cell Design Labs, a biotech company developing novel CAR-T and T cell receptor therapies in a deal valued at up to $567 million.
Other deal-making in this space includes bluebird bio’s broad strategic collaboration with Celgene Corporation to commercialize CAR T-cell programs and Pfizer’s CAR-T collaboration with Cellectis that was accompanied by $80 million upfront payment and up to $185 million per product with royalties.
Finally, Bellicum Pharmaceuticals and Agensys, an affiliate of Astellas Pharma, has a global license agreement that allows Bellicum to commercialize adoptive cell therapies, including CAR-T cells, for tumors expressing Prostate Stem Cell Antigen (PSCA).
Most recently, AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV) and Calibr, a nonprofit drug discovery division of Scripps Research, announced they will co-develop CAR-T therapies aimed at solid tumors and other cancers. Under the terms of the license agreement, AbbVie will pay Calibr an undisclosed upfront license fee and gain exclusive access to Calibr’s switchable CAR-T platform for up to four years.
List of CAR-T Deals
Below is a list of recent CAR-T deals and partnerships:
- bluebird bio entered a strategic collaboration with Celgene Corporation in March 2018
- Celgene acquired Juno Therapeutics $9 billion in January 2018
- Gilead Sciences acquired Kite Pharma for $11.9 billion in August 2017
- J&J paid $350 million to partner with Chinese firm Nanjing Legend Biotech in December 2017
- Gilead acquired Cell Design Labs for $567 million in December 2017
- Bellicum Pharmaceuticals and Agensys entered a license agreement in December 2015
- Pfizer’s entered a collaboration with Cellectis for $80 million upfront and up to $185 million per product in royalties in June 2014
- AbbVie entered into a 4 year license agreement with Calibr for an undisclosed sum in June 2018
Lucrative CAR-T IPOs
There have also been a series of CAR-T IPOs totaling nearly $1 billion dollars over the past five years. A list of these IPO’s is included below.
List of CAR-T IPOs
|COMPANY||IPO DATE||AMOUNT ($)|
|Kite Pharma||June 2014||$134.1 million|
|Bellicum||December 2014||$160 million|
|Juno||December 2014||$264.6 million|
|Cellectis||March 2015||$228 million|
|Autolus||June 2018||$150 million|
|ALL COMPANIES||TOTAL||$936 MILLION|
Clearly, funding is aggressively flowing into CAR-T technologies, making this a “hot” market trend. The question is, what will be the CAR-T product, who will be the next target for acquisition, and how big will the price tag be for future deals?
Learn More about CAR-T
Interested to learn more about CAR-T? Watch the video below explaining how CAR-T works.