Follow The Money: Investments and Funding Rounds for November

November 22, 2019

November 22, 2019 | Some of the latest funding updates from across life sciences, clinical trials, the diagnostics industries.

$119M: Corporate Investment in Gene Therapy

FUJIFILM Corporation will make a capital investment of approximately 13 billion yen in the gene therapy field, one of the priority areas for growth in the Contract Development and Manufacturing (CDMO) business, in order to further expand the contracted development and manufacturing business. The investment will include the addition of dedicated gene therapy laboratories. The new building will be part of FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies (FDB) College Station, Texas, campus. This site has been FDB’s Center of Excellence for gene therapy products since 2014. The laboratories will be approximately 6,000 square meters and will house state-of-the-art upstream, downstream and analytical development technologies.  They will be operational in the fall of 2021. Fujifilm has also announced that additional investments include expanding FDB’s the gene therapy cGMP capacity.

$90M: Smallest Sequencer

GenapSys has completed a $90 million funding round, led by Foresite Capital, to commercialize the smallest and most affordable highly accurate sequencer ever developed. This latest investment round brings the company’s total funding to $166 million to date. Now available for purchase, the device uses first-of-its-kind technology to deliver results at a fraction of the cost of legacy technologies, while still delivering highly-accurate results. The new capital will be used to drive the commercial launch of the company’s first-generation product, grow GenapSys’ interdisciplinary team, and empower continued innovation.

$36M: Robotics

XACT Robotics has completed its latest financing round totaling $36 million. The company intends to use the proceeds to support the commercialization and continued development activities in support of the XACT Robotic System, which also has CE Mark. The XACT Robotic System is the first hands-free robotic system combining image-based planning and navigation with insertion and steering of various instruments to a desired target across an array of clinical applications and indications. The current financing round included leading investors in the surgical robotics space, such as Chasing Value Asset Management Inc. (CA, USA) who previously held positions in MAKO Surgical Corp. (acquired by Stryker Corp. in 2013), Mazor Robotics (acquired by Medtronic in 2018), and most recently Corindus Vascular Robotics (acquired by Siemens in 2019). They join the current shareholders of the company including Shizim Group and MEDX Ventures Group.

$36M: Series D Prenatal Care

Sera Prognostics has raised $36 million in Series D financing. Blue Ox Healthcare Partners (“Blue Ox”), an investment firm providing growth capital to healthcare companies targeting individuality and value-based care, led the investment round alongside two strategic healthcare companies. Proceeds from the Series D financing will be used to increase commercialization of Sera’s PreTRM test, a biomarker blood test to accurately assess a woman’s individualized risk of premature delivery, and to measure real-world clinical improvements and economic savings in collaboration with top health plans and providers.

$16M: Series A Patient Communication

Twistle has secured $16 million in Series A funding. Leading healthcare enterprises use Twistle’s scalable technology to manage outreach to patient populations by automating communications, information-gathering, and patient education, helping them improve clinical and patient-reported outcomes while simultaneously lowering costs. The funding round was led by Health Enterprise Partners (HEP) and MemorialCare Innovation Fund (MCIF). The funding will be leveraged to advance Twistle’s mission of helping care teams optimize every patient’s care by automating proactive conversations that inform timely actions. Specifically, the company will accelerate expansion in the provider and life sciences markets, and fuel innovation with a focus on human-assisted automation that enables those organizations to continuously improve patient care.

$13.5M: Series A Immune System Therapeutics

Aussie company Kira Biotech today announced it has secured Series A funding of AUD20 million to develop therapeutics targeting difficult-to-treat immune system disorders. The round was led by OneVentures, with significant investment from IP Group and support from the Advance Queensland Business Development Fund. The funds will help advance Kira Biotech’s lead candidate KB312 through phase 1 human studies. Kira’s research program focuses on immune tolerance and targets cells and pathways that are key activators of the immune response in patients with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and type 1 diabetes.

$10M: License Agreement

Agenus, an immuno-oncology (I-O) company with a pipeline of immune checkpoint antibodies, adoptive cell therapies and cancer vaccines, received $10 million upfront for a License Agreement with UroGen Pharma. Under the agreement Agenus is providing access to zalifrelimab (AGEN1884, anti-CTLA-4 antibody) for use with UroGen's sustained release technology for intravesical delivery in patients with urinary tract cancers.  Agenus is conducting clinical trials for zalifrelimab in combination with Agenus' anti-PD-1 antibody balstilimab (AGEN2034) for a planned BLA filing in cervical cancer. In addition, zalifrelimab is being evaluated as a monotherapy in PD-1 refractory patients. Under the terms of the agreement, in addition to the $10 million upfront payment, Agenus is eligible to receive up to $200 million in potential development, regulatory and commercial milestones, as well as 14-20% royalties on net sales.

$6M: BARDA Grant

Inflammatix, a pioneering molecular diagnostics company, announced today an agreement with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, to further develop its HostDx tests. Under the contract, Inflammatix will receive $6 million in the first phase of a cost-sharing contract worth up $72 million based on achieving certain milestones. The new contract will advance development and commercialization of Inflammatix’s simple sample-to-answer, point-of-care HostDx test system, which will produce results in under 30 minutes. The first phase of work will focus on the novel HostDx Fever test. The HostDx Fever test “reads” gene expression patterns in the immune system to quickly identify whether a suspected infection is bacterial or viral, enabling physicians to quickly and accurately determine whether to prescribe antibiotics. The HostDx Fever test will be run from a fingerstick blood sample and will be used primarily in primary care, urgent care and other outpatient clinical settings.

$2.7M: European Innovation Council Funding

MeMed has received €2.5 million in non-dilutive funding from the European Innovation Council (EIC). The EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument) award supports small and medium-sized companies with breakthrough innovations and the potential to create new markets or redefine existing ones globally. Among less than 5% of applicants selected for the prestigious award, MeMed will also receive accompanying services the EIC provides to winners to more quickly scale their businesses and bring disruptive technologies to market.

Grant Update: Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

CorTechs Labs has entered the second phase of its project titled, Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and prediction of clinical progression using an automated PET image analysis tool. This project, funded by a $1.15 million, multi-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was awarded to CorTechs Labs in December of 2018. The grant was awarded to reshape how Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed. During the first phase, CorTechs Labs worked on delivery methods using an automated PET image analysis tool to determine a patient’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s and to monitor disease progression and treatment response.

In the second phase, CorTechs Labs is developing an automatic classification algorithm with the goal of separating Alzheimer’s disease patients from non-Alzheimer’s disease controls. The company will also assess if the algorithm can predict the risk of developing the disease in individuals.