Superstar Investors Jump in on Celgene Spinout Celularity’s $250 Million Funding Round
By Mark Terry
With a high-profile group of investors and backers, Celularity launched with $250 million. It is a spinout from Celgene Corporation which led the funding. Investors include United Therapeutics, Sorrento Therapeutics, Human Longevity, Genting Group, the Dreyfus Family Office, Section 32 and Heritage Group.
The company’s founders are Robert Hariri and Peter Diamandis. Hariri, founder, chairman and chief executive officer, is also the former chairman and chief executive officer of Celgene Cellular Therapeutics, a division of Celgene Corporation, and the co-founder and vice chairman of Human Longevity. Diamandis, co-founder and vice chairman, is the founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE and executive founder of Singularity University. He has co-founded 20 companies, including Human Longevity.
The company’s board includes John Scully, formerly of Apple and Pepsi-Cola, Bill Maris of Section 32 (previously founder and chief executive officer of Google Ventures), and Andrew von Eschenbach, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Celularity has a wide-ranging focus and assets to work with. This includes the first proprietary allogeneic “off-the-shelf” immunotherapeutic platform, a clinical stage Placental Natural Killer (PNK) Cell Program, an IND-ready CD38 CAR-T program, an allogeneic CD38 CAR NK program, Phase III-ready placental adherent cell products for serious Crohn’s disease, Sorrento Therapeutics’ G-MAB Library of 50+ fully-human antibody-CAR constructs, and others.
TechCrunch writes, Celularity plans to use “stem cells found in the human placenta to quickly regenerate tissue and organs needed to treat cancer and other diseases. The idea is these types of cells can do a better job of helping us live longer, fuller, healthier lives.”
In addition to its many other assets, Celularity owns LifeBankUSA, a stem cell biobanking company that’s been in existence about 20 years. It is considered to be the only repository of donated placenta cells and biomaterials in the world. It also owns commercially-available regeneration products Biovance and Interfyl, as well as late-stage pipeline assets.
Forbes notes, “There is also a treatment for wound healing (Biovance), already approved, which Hariri says could generate $20 million or more this year, bringing total revenues above $30 million. He thinks the company can grow revenues on this existing business relatively quickly. There’s also an experimental placenta cell treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Hariri says he has five clinical stage cell therapy candidates. In a collaboration with United Therapeutics, Hariri says, the company is even working on re-growing lungs. Those are big promises. At the least, it won’t be boring.”
“My goal is to make it so the next generation grows up in a world where cancer is managed just like the common cold, and the body’s natural regenerative engine remains empowered throughout our lives,” Hariri said in a statement. “Celularity is a new biotechnology company model founded to harness the placenta as a platform for discovery and therapeutics, ultimately with a goal of amplifying the body’s ability to fight disease, restore function and extend the healthy lifespan. It is my vision that the cellular medicines we derive from the placenta will lead to abundant and affordable treatments.”
The company already has conducted clinical trials and treated hundreds of patients. And Hariri told TechCrunch that some of these projects could be on the market in the next 12 to 24 months.
There doesn’t appear to be much competition for this approach in the U.S., where it appears to be the only player. There are others around the world, including Israel-based Pluristem.
“Celularity’s technology has the potential to augment human immunity and longevity,” Diamandis said in a statement. “The company’s ultimate vision is to make 100 years old the new 60, providing people with maximal cognition, mobility and aesthetics as they age. The 20 years of science, research, and intellectual property pioneered by Dr. Bob Hariri has the highest potential to become the cornerstone for this vision.”