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Cell Medica bags €68,8 in Series C

Cell Medica makes use of streptamer technology to select cells that express viral antigens, © Cell Medica

British Cell Medica has closed a 60£ (€68,8m) Series C financing to advance its pipeline of virus-specific Natural Killer T (NKT) cells in oncology and viral infection.

Existing investors Touchstone Innovations, Invesco Perpetual, and Woodford Investment Management participated in the round. Cell Medica said it will use the funds to further develop its oncology pipeline, particularly its Phase II lead baltaleucel-T (CMD-003), a preparation of autologous T-cells targetting tumor cells, which express four tumour-associated antigens (LMP1/LMP2/EBNA/BARF) of the Eppstein-Barr virus (EBV), to treat NKTCL.

NKTCL is a rare extranodal lymphoma of NK-cells or T-cell origin in which tumour cells are infected by the Eppstein-Barr virus. According to Cell Medica, the unpartnered Phase II orphan drug candidate  (EU/US) offers a specific treatment option „with very limited side effects or toxicities“ for patients with EBV-associated advanced lymphomas. In February, the company received fast track designation for the treatment from the US FDA.

Cell Medica said that will further use the capital for progressing two new technologies it added last year to its immunoncology pipeline: CAR-natural killer T cells and TCR-engineered natural killer T cells. 

Last June, Cell Medica started a research collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine to co-develop CAR natural killer cell therapies. In the same year, Cell Medica acquired the Swiss CAR-T cell therapy specialist Delenex Therapeutics whose PENTRA antibody fragment platform enables Cell Medica to target CAR-NKTs to new cancer antigens and to engineer immune cells to secrete blocking antibodies which prevent cancer cells from escaping from the immune response. Additionally, Cell Medica partnered with University College London (UCL) in order to use its Dominant TCR technology which boosts expression of  cancer antigen specific TCRs.

According to Gregg Sando, Cell Medica’s Chief Executive Officer "Cell Medica will implement the next phase of our development programme, bringing a new generation of cell-based immunotherapy products into Phase 1 clinical trials as well as completing our Phase 2 programme for baltaleucel-T.  This funding enables us to continue our efforts to unlock the full potential of cellular immunotherapy for the benefit of cancer patients.”