Follow the Money: MD Anderson’s High-Affinity Monoclonal Antibody Research, New Neurodegeneration Research Center, More

December 22, 2022 | Funding for microbial resistance and infectious disease research, tracking Long COVID in diverse pediatric and adult populations, an AI-powered platform that identifies novel cancer therapies and predicts the efficacy of cancer drug combinations, and more.

$150M: Series A Funding for Life Sciences SaaS Solutions 

MasterControl announced its first-ever funding, a $150 million Series A round. The company is now valued at $1.3 billion with this funding. The proceeds will accelerate the development of SaaS solutions serving the company’s global life sciences customers, including Pfizer, Cochlear, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and more than 1,100 others worldwide. MasterControl will use the financing to build and enhance its solutions while focusing on technology that will predict and prevent quality events and enable true AI-assisted manufacturing optimization. Investing in new technologies like AI, machine learning, and natural language processing will improve customers’ business outcomes and reduce the time and cost of compliance and red tape, getting life-changing products to patients in previously impossible timeframes. 

$117.8M: Funding for Digital Biomolecular Analytics 

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) launched the Institute for Digital Molecular Analytics and Science (IDMxS), which aims to advance the science behind analyzing biological molecules through information technology and data science. IDMxS is supported with a total investment of approximately S$160 million over 10 years, comprising S$94 million from the Singapore Ministry of Education, with the remainder from NTU and the National University of Singapore. The interdisciplinary center is expected to bring together 100 full-time researchers and staff with expertise in engineering, biology, medical technology, chemistry, optics, computer science, and artificial intelligence. IDMxS will also develop continuing education programs geared towards advancing and modernizing the healthcare workforce to adapt to the digitization of clinical diagnostics. The goal is to create real-time capabilities to track health information—viral infections or molecular signatures that indicate the presence of a disease—and environmental data. 

$100M: Private Placement for Clinical-Stage Biotechnology Operations 

Celcuity announced closing its private placement, resulting in gross proceeds of approximately $100 million, before deducting placement agent fees and other expenses. As a result of the closing, Celcuity will be eligible to draw on a $20 million tranche of a term loan under the terms of a $75 million debt facility, as amended in August this year. The proceeds from the private placement—combined with the debt facility, the company's current cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities—are expected to fund the company's current clinical-stage biotechnology operating plan through 2025. In addition, Celcuity intends to use the net proceeds from the private placement and its existing cash and investments for working capital and general corporate purposes. 

$35M: Funding for Sudan Ebolavirus Vaccines 

A Sudan ebolavirus vaccine and antibody therapeutic tested at Texas Biomedical Research Institute have been sent to Uganda as part of efforts to control the outbreak there. While an Ebola vaccine now exists, it is ineffective against the Sudan species currently affecting Uganda. The Sabin Vaccine Institute has been undergoing preclinical testing at Texas Biomed to evaluate safety and efficacy, and an initial shipment of the vaccine is now in Uganda. Development of the vaccine and antibody candidates is currently being funded in whole or in part by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. The Institute has been awarded more than $35 million in subcontracts to run detailed studies required by the FDA to determine if Sudan ebolavirus vaccines and therapies are effective. 

$25M: Series A Extension for Antibody Drug Conjugates and Immunotherapy 

Nectin Therapeutics announced the dosing of the first patient in its Phase 1 clinical trial of NTX1088, Nectin's first-in-class high-affinity monoclonal antibody directed against PVR (CD155), in cancer patients with locally advanced and metastatic solid tumors. The trial is being conducted at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center with an investment from the Cancer Focus Fund. The trial will include up to 90 patients treated with NTX1088 as a monotherapy and in combination with a PD-1 blocker. Additionally, Nectin announced that it had extended its Series A financing to over $25 million. The funding will support the ongoing clinical evaluation of NTX1088 and further advance the company's targeted immunotherapies and antibody drug conjugates pipeline. 

$21.1M: Series A Funding for Targeted Cancer Treatment AI Platform 

Turbine has completed a €20m Series A financing round. The company, which has offices in Cambridge and Budapest, will use the funding to develop its AI-powered platform further, expand its team, and develop new commercial partnerships with biopharmaceutical companies. The Simulated Cell platform offers a computer model of the internal signaling network of cancer cells to provide a deeper understanding of their biology and the potential impact of treatments. It can be used to identify novel cancer therapies, improve the likelihood of success of clinical trials, predict the efficacy of cancer drug combinations, and allow existing drugs to be targeted at the patients most likely to benefit. 

$16.5M: Funding for Oncology Clinical Trial Expansion 

Massive Bio closed a $16.5 million funding round, which brought the company’s total raise to $23.3 million from its inception. The funding was used to hire executives for its C-suite: Verily veteran Özgür “Oz” as Chief Product Officer and Erkan Terzi as Chief Marketing Officer. The company also hired Gretchen O’Neill as Executive Director of Clinical Operations and David Henka as Director of Global Strategic Partnerships. In addition, massive Bio recently announced onboarding more than 100,000 patients onto its trial matching platform. Massive Bio’s AI technology can improve healthcare access and equity by automatically matching patient data to cancer trial data to enhance the patient experience in ways they could not do before. 

$13.47M: Funding for Microbial Resistance Research 

The new Würzburg Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) "Decisions in Infectious Diseases" (DECIDE) will investigate microbial resistance. The CRC does not focus on a single pathogen but combines research on several bacteria, viruses, and fungi that frequently cause human infections. The German Research Foundation will fund the initiative with €13M over the next four years. DECIDE brings together 26 research teams from JMU, Würzburg University Hospital, the Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research in Würzburg, the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig, the Technical University of Berlin, and the University of Münster. 

$12.75M: Series A Funding for Lab-As-Code Cloud-Based Technology 

Ganymede Bio announced a $12.75 million Series A funding round following a $2.9 million seed round completed earlier this year, bringing the total to over $15.6 million. Ganymede’s data platform is powered by its revolutionary Lab-as-Code core technology. It enables scientists and bioinformaticians to write real-time integrations and scientific analyses in a low-code cloud IDE by directly connecting to any lab instrument or scientific software, ultimately bringing entire labs and manufacturing sites onto the cloud—and fast. Ganymede also offers end-to-end enterprise services and builds custom integrations for clients. This latest round of financing will support ongoing development and the implementation of its unique whole-lab data integration and cloud IDE development platform and ensure continued customer success. 

$12M: Seed Funding for Human-Derived Antibody Drugs 

Infinimmune announced that it closed a $12 million seed round. Infinimmune is reinventing antibody drug discovery by focusing solely on human-derived antibody drugs. The company will discover, characterize, and export protective antibodies in therapeutic form from humans to the clinic. These antibodies constitute fundamentally better drug candidates than those originating in other organisms. Infinimmune founders Wyatt McDonnell, Katie Pfeiffer, Mike Gibbons, Lance Hepler, and David Jaffe have led development teams at 10x Genomics, Pacific Biosciences, and the Broad Institute. Together, they are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the explosion in single-cell technology, leverage powerful datasets and sample cohorts, and build and integrate new technology to identify targets and develop classes of safe and effective antibody drugs. 

$9M: Seed Funding Expansion for Bio-AI Clinical Prediction Platform 

Quris announced it had secured an additional $9 million in seed funding, bringing its total seed round funding to $37 million. Quris is the first Bio-AI clinical prediction platform that simulates clinical trials by leveraging a patented patient-on-chip system through stem-cell-derived tissue and AI to simulate a natural human body’s reaction to drugs without relying on time-intense, inaccurate animal testing. Better predicting which drug candidates will safely work in humans, Quris reduces drug development cost and duration. 

$7.3M: Funding for Nationwide Long COVID Research 

Researchers from the University of Arizona Health Sciences received $7.3 million in funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to participate in “Tracking the Burden, Distribution, Impact of Post COVID-19 Conditions (PCC) in Diverse Populations for Children, Adolescents, Adults,” or Track PCC, a national effort to track the impact of post-COVID-19 conditions in diverse populations of children, adolescents, and adults. The study seeks to understand the long-term effects of post-COVID-19 conditions across all age groups and in underserved communities or population groups that experience disparities. Researchers will estimate the number of people experiencing post-COVID-19 complications in Arizona through data from healthcare records and administrative databases. Data will be collected and analyzed with the Arizona Department of Health Services and other healthcare partners. The project will work closely with CoVHORT, established early in the pandemic, to track the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 in Arizona.  

$6M: Seed funding for Single-Cell Spatial Proteomics 

Pixelgen Technologies emerged from stealth today with a mission to bring a new dimension to single-cell spatial proteomics. The launch follows the close of an approximate $6 million seed round, which will support the commercialization of the company's groundbreaking Molecular Pixelation technology for spatial analyses of cell surface proteins in 3D.  Molecular Pixelation is the only technology able to show spatial protein polarization and co-localization on the cell surface in a highly multiplexed manner. It also uses oligo-conjugated antibodies and nucleic acid-encoded pixels to identify and spatially locate cell surface proteins. After staining, cells are tagged with Pixelgen's proprietary DNA pixels to map out the surface proteins' locations. 

$5M: Funding for Expanding COVID Testing and Accelerating Product Development 

Pictor announced a funding round to help accelerate pipeline product development projects and market development activities within Australia/New Zealand, the US, and Europe for its Human Health and Animal Health portfolios. Pictor’s multiplex technology enables two key approaches—testing for multiple diseases or testing for different stages or markers of disease—all within a single enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test well. Within the Human Health space, Pictor’s current focus is expanding access to its highly accurate tests for COVID-19 antibodies and accelerating the development of its test for tropical fevers. 

$4M: Grant for Increasing Diversity in Clinical Research 

The American Heart Association announced an additional $4 million grant to add a sixth scientific research center, bringing total funding to its Strategically-Focused Research Network on the Science of Diversity in Clinical Trials to $24 million. The new center, led by a team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Morgan State University in Baltimore, is made possible through financial support from Care Access and the BRIDGE Initiative, which will also provide in-kind services to the Johns Hopkins Center and the clinical trials research network. The new center—Improving Participation Among diverse populations in Cardiovascular clinical Trials or IMPACT—will conduct two projects specifically focused on identifying ways to increase participation and recruit people from underrepresented populations to participate in clinical research trials. The first project will involve gathering a community of people interested in becoming involved in heart disease research. The second project will test different digital methods for finding people interested in heart disease research and will include evaluations of internet websites, advertisements, and platforms like Facebook and Google. 

$3.48M: Funding for Severe Flu Trial Initiative 

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is funding £2.9 million for the REMAP-CAP trial, a UK-based trial that aims to use pandemic lessons to help quickly find effective treatments for people hospitalized with severe flu. REMAP-CAP will work with the NIHR's Clinical Research Network to recruit children and adults hospitalized with severe flu from 150 hospitals across the UK over the next two years. It will be run by researchers and clinicians from Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare National Health Service Trust in collaboration with other national experts. This is the first time a trial of this kind will be used for the flu. The trial is designed to provide answers quickly by using a robust yet rapid approach to test multiple treatments simultaneously in thousands of people. The trial aims to recruit several thousand people. It will test numerous treatments, such as the anti-viral treatments oseltamivir (also known as Tamiflu) and baloxavir, as well as steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs found to be effective against COVID-19. 

Undisclosed Series A Financing for AI Procedure Recording and Patient Recruitment Tool 

The American Gastroenterological Association announced that its new venture capital fund, GI Opportunity Fund 1, completed its first investment, rounding out the Series A financing of Virgo Surgical Video Solutions of Carlsbad, California. Virgo provides gastroenterologists, clinical trial sponsors, and trial site investigators with AI-fueled, always-on endoscopic procedure recording and patient recruitment tools for clinical trials in gastroenterology, starting with inflammatory bowel disease clinical trials. 

Undisclosed Gift for Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center 

A transformational gift from the Carol and Gene Ludwig Family Foundation will support the launch of a neurodegenerative disease research center at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S). The foundation’s gift will establish The Carol and Gene Ludwig Center for Research on Neurodegeneration to support research on the underlying biological and genetic mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders to discover innovative, more effective, targeted treatments for these diseases. The gift will help create state-of-the-art laboratories for the Center and Ludwig Investigators in a new research building at VP&S. Currently, in the design phase, the building will be home to Ludwig Center faculty and dozens of other researchers working collaboratively in areas of basic and translational research and precision medicine, using such tools as genomics, stem cells, animal models, and computational biology to inform advances in patient care.

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